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The Management 
of Ineffective 

Keith Davis, Consulting Editor 

Allen Management and Organization 

Bowman Management: Organization and Planning 

Davis Human Relations at Work 

Davis and Scott Readings in Human Relations 

Flippo Principles of Personnel Management 

Grimshaw and Hennessey Organizational Behavior 

Harbison and Myers Management in the Industrial World 

Johnson, Kast, and Rosenzweig The Theory and Management of 

Keith and Gubellini Business Management 
Koontz and O'Donnell Principles of Management 
Koontz and O'Donnell Readings in Management 
Maier Problem-solving Discussions and Conferences: Leadership 

Methods and Skills 
Mayer Production Management 

McDonough Information Economics and Management Systems 
McNichols Policy Making and Executive Action 
Miner The Management of IneflFective Performance 
Vigors and Pigors Case Method in Human Relations 
Saltonstall Human Relations in Administration 
Steiner Managerial Long-range Planning 
Sutermeister People and Productivity 

Tannenbaum, Weschler, and Massarik Leadership and Organization 
Vance Industrial Administration 
Vance Management Decision Simulation 

The Management 

John B. Miner 




McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 

New York San Francisco Toronto London 


Copyright © 1963 by the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. All Rights 
Reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This book, or parts 
thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission of 
the publishers. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 63-17598. 


To Barbara, John, Cynthia, and Frances 

A book is rarely written merely because the author decides 
he would like to publish something on a certain topic and then sits down 
to write. Most books have a long prepublication history during which the 
ideas evolve slowly to the point where a framework for a book finally 
emerges. This volume is no exception. The starting point was sometime 
in 1956. During that year and the one which followed, James Anderson, 
a specialist in public administration and manpower utilization, Eli Ginz- 
berg, an economist, John Herma, a psychoanalyst and psychologist, and 
the writer, an industrial psychologist and personnel man, were all work- 
ing on the Conservation of Human Resources Project at Columbia Uni- 
versity preparing the three volumes which were subsequently published 
under the title The Ineffective Soldier (6, 37, 38). The four of us held 
many discussions concerning the concept of performance and the factors 
which influence work efficiency. It was out of these discussions that the 
idea for a publication dealing specifically with methods of handling in- 
effective performance in the business world first emerged. 

Subsequently this idea was developed more fully and incorporated in 
a management development course which the writer has offered on a 
number of occasions, both as a regular company program and as a uni- 
versity-sponsored seminar for industrial managers. Later the course was 
expanded and instituted as a regular school of business administration 
offering in business organization and management. It has been taught as 
an undergraduate lecture course and, when combined with extensive out- 
side readings, as a graduate seminar. In connection with a number of 
these courses, both in industry and in the university setting, research has 
been carried out to determine whether the course really did contribute 
to managerial effectiveness (79, 132, 133). It was the success of these 
studies which encouraged the writer to organize the material in book form. 

As this brief history indicates, the primary purpose in writing this vol- 
ume has been to provide practicing business managers and managers in 
training with a synthesis of available information on work performance 
and with a method of dealing with individuals who are not meeting 
established standards of effectiveness. The writer cannot help hoping, 
however, that some of the ideas here will also prove useful to those with 
primarily scholarly interests in the fields of organization theory and man- 


viii Preface 

power utilization, whether their original training was in business admin- 
istration, psychology, sociology, political science, economics, industrial 
engineering, psychiatry, anthropology, or some related field. 

Whatever his background, the reader should be cautioned in one re- 
spect. The ideas presented on the following pages have been developed 
in sequence. The later chapters, and the performance analyses of Chapter 
12 in particular, rely heavily on definitions and concepts covered earlier. 
Chapter 12 can, for instance, be consulted as a source of detailed informa- 
tion regarding the factors which have apparently contributed to a given 
individual's failure on the job. But it is most likely to be helpful if the 
reader has previously acquired at least a general familiarity with the 
material contained in the first eleven chapters. 




1 An Introduction to Performance Analysis . 1 

2 Intelligence and Job Knowledge 19 

3 Emotions and Emotional Illness 39 

4 Individual Motivation to Work 71 

5 Physical Characteristics and Disorders 97 

6 Family Ties 115 

7 The Groups at Work 131 

8 The Company 157 

9 Society and Its Values 179 

10 Situational Forces ^ 197 

11 Special Problems in Managerial Ineffectiveness 215 

12 Case Histories and Performance Analyses 227 
CASE 2 PRODUCTION FOREMAN: Joseph Johnson 240 
CASE 3 INDUSTRIAL SALESMAN: Willard Davison 249 
CASE 4 MACHINE OPERATOR: Frank Krasnoski 257 
CASE 5 STORE MANAGER: Edward Kaplan 263 
CASE 7 TRUCK DRIVER: Blair Bischel 283 
CASE 9 TRAINING COORDINATOR: Anthony Ciccelli 298 
CASE 10 WELDER: Floyd Nelson 307 
CASE 11 SALES MANAGER: Wayne Tindall 315 

13 Organizational Implications 333 

INDEX 359 



As the title suggests, references to success and outstanding 
accomplishment occur rarely in these pages. The emphasis is on failure 
and people who have failed and why they have failed. The objective is to 
provide an understanding of the factors that may contribute to ineffective 
performance and of the techniques that a manager may employ in his ef- 
forts to cope with it. The only success this book is concerned with is the 
success a manager achieves because he is able to produce an effective level 
of performance in an individual who has previously been considered a 

One assumption is basic to all that follows: Corrective action, if it is to 
accomplish its goal more frequently than pure luck would allow, must be 
predicated on a thorough understanding of the factors causing the diffi- 
culty. The manager must become in one sense a diagnostician. He must 
devote time and effort to determining what it is that has produced the 
poor performance. Only then is he in a position to prescribe an appropri- 
ate solution. Intelligent corrective action must be based on a comprehen- 
sive knowledge of the factors which have created and perpetuated the 
failure. This is the raison d'etre of performance analysis. 

In a sense the managerial job requires skills which are analogous to 
those of an experienced automobile mechanic. Faced with a car which 
does not run satisfactorily, the competent mechanic asks questions of the 
driver, observes the condition of the engine, and introduces various 
changes while noting their effects on operating efficiency. Only then is he 
in a position to take some kind of corrective action. He does not begin by 
replacing the carburetor, although this approach may occasionally prove 
successful. It may also prove highly profitable, at least for a brief period 
of time. But we would never consider a man who employs it a good me- 

The point is perhaps even more appropriately made with reference to 


2 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

the physician. No competent practitioner would consider prescribing a 
remedy without some attempt to determine causation. The days of blood- 
letting as an almost invariable treatment, applied without knowledge of 
or attempt to determine the factors producing the disorder, are gone. 
Medical practice has developed to the point where a more sophisticated 
approach is possible, and the human life-span has consequently been ex- 
tended by many years. The field of management has only recently begun 
to enter a similar stage. Just as biological research provided the knowledge 
necessary for advances in medical practice, social science research is now 
beginning to provide means for the improvement of managerial practice. 
We have reached the point where "managerial bloodletting" is no longer 
satisfactory or even acceptable. The knowledge and tools which will per- 
mit some extension of the "occupational life-span" are already available, 
although perhaps not yet widely understood. The knowledge may be rela- 
tively rudimentary and the tools rather gross, but they are sufficient to 
allow a much more sophisticated approach to the supervision of subordi- 
nates than has been possible previously. They are also sufficient to per- 
mit the use of a diagnostic approach and the application of "cures" which 
have some relationship to known causes. 

Although it is by no means the only aspect of the managerial job, the 
handling of ine£Fective performance is a major responsibility of manage- 
ment. The manager is a person who has been assigned more work than he 
can do alone. He must therefore induce others to assist him if he is to be 
successful. To the extent that these others fail to perform eflFectively, he 
himself will fall short of complete success. In practice this means that the 
man who is failing creates a very special problem and consequently places 
unique demands on his superior's time. The individual who does his job 
well does not make major demands on supervision. He is capable of work- 
ing for long periods on his own. The ineffective, on the other hand, char- 
acteristically requires frequent attention, and many hours are often de- 
voted to consideration of his difficulties. It is because the handling of in- 
effective performance is such an important aspect of the managerial job, 
and because knowledge in this area has now reached significant propor- 
tions, that it is desirable — and possible — ^for a book such as this to be 
written. In the long run the possession of an advanced skill in the manage- 
ment of ineffective performance should make the manager s job much 
easier. It will certainly make the manager himself more effective. 

Performance Failure in a Competitive Economic System 

What is meant by poor or ineffective performance? The problem is a 
complex one, but an understanding of it is crucial to all that follows. In- 
dividual performance is characteristically judged or measured in terms of 

An Introduction to Performance Analysis 3 

its contribution to the goals of the particular organization. These goals 
tend to be intimately associated with the values of the members — with 
what the members believe the goals should be. Although in any organiza- 
tion there is likely to be a diversity of opinion in this regard, some degree 
of consensus usually prevails. In business this organizational goal is gen- 
erally considered to be the continuing maximization of net profit within 
the limits set by the ethical and legal standards of society. There are many 
who would contend that this is not or should not be the objective of busi- 
ness enterprise. Many alternative or supplementary goals have been pro- 
posed. But the vast majority of business managers are still extremely re- 
sponsive to an appeal based on the ultimate criterion of profitability. And 
society as a whole, to the extent that it supports capitalism in any form, 
automatically commits itself to this position. If our economic system is in 
any sense a capitalistic one, and even the most casual observation and 
discussion would indicate that it is, then that fact implies that our busi- 
ness organizations must have profit as their ultimate goal. By embracing 
capitalism we bind ourselves to the view that each individual business 
should compete for profits. It follows that the performance of the individ- 
ual members of a business organization must be evaluated in terms of their 
contribution to the profitability of the firm. 

Other types of organizations will, of course, have completely diflFerent 
objectives, and performance within these will be judged on some other 
basis. Furthermore, any individual member of a company's employee 
group may also be a member of some other organization with objectives 
di£Fering from, or even completely at variance with, those of the business. 
This in no way negates the fact that within the firm itself the behavior of 
individual members must be evaluated in relation to the company goals. 
The same behavior may, of course, be evaluated in an entirely different 
manner by some other group, such as a union, of which the man is a mem- 
ber. A "good union man" may, by virtue of his commitment to a compet- 
ing organization, behave in a manner which causes him to be labeled in- 
effective by his company. 

When we speak of ineffective performance, however, more is implied 
than merely a relationship to profits. The use of the qualifier ineffective 
indicates some feeling that an individual's behavior is unsatisfactory, that 
he has fallen below some standard. Since the standard which constitutes 
the dividing line between effective and ineffective performance is not al- 
ways clearly or exactly defined by the manager or by the organization, it 
is impossible to provide a perfectly precise definition of ineffectiveness. 
As a working guide it can be said that a man has failed if his performance 
is considered unsatisfactory either by his superiors or in terms of organi- 
zational standards. Although this definition lacks theoretical sophistica- 
tion, it does possess considerable pragmatic value. 

4 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

The standards used are established by a man's hne superiors and by 
certain groups within the organization which have been assigned this 
function. These characteristically include units with titles such as per- 
sonnel, budget, methods and standards, industrial engineering, quality 
control, etc. The standards may be rigidly established numerical cutting 
points, or they may be highly subjective feelings existing only in the minds 
of individuals and subject to frequent variation. Although objectively and 
subjectively established standards such as these may not be equally de- 
sirable from the point of view of their contribution to organizational goals, 
they do have the same consequences for supervisor and subordinate. Once 
a manager defines a man as ineflFective in some respect, it matters little to 
him or to the man how the standard was established. Both have a prob- 
lem which needs solving. And it is the problem which is important. 

This does not, of course, eliminate the possibility that either the man- 
ager or the organization might establish inappropriate standards which 
are clearly inconsistent with the company goals. It is in fact possible that 
inappropriate standards might constitute a complete explanation of in- 
e£Fectiveness — that a man might be ineffective by definition only. Even 
in such cases, however, there is still a problem to be solved. The man has 
been defined as ineffective, and some action must be taken. The matter 
cannot be ignored because the standards were loosely and subjectively 
defined or because they were inappropriately high. 

Standards are not, of course, characteristically established for a single 
dimension called performance. Usually performance is broken into a va- 
riety of dimensions or aspects, and standards of ineffectiveness are de- 
veloped for each. A man may be said to be producing an unsatisfactory 
quantity of work, to be absent too often, or to be ineffective in some other 
respect. Companies have developed a great variety of criteria by which 
to evaluate people. In many firms the same factor is used under different 
names. It seems possible, however, to reduce this diversity to four basic 
dimensions or aspects of performance. These four appear to be sufficient 
to cover all major criteria which are in fact used to evaluate work-related 
behavior and which can be logically derived from the goals of the business 
organization. There are of course many aspects of human beings and their 
behavior which are evaluated by other people but which have nothing to 
do with organizational goals and the profitabiHty of the enterprise. These 
are not comprehended by the four categories. Also, it is clear that sub- 
divisions can, and on occasion should, be made within each of the four. 

Qu ality is an ob vious first. Work is almost universally evaluated in terms 
of the number ot errors or mistakes — ^in terms of accuracy. Quantity of 
output h as achieved a similar acceptance. A man is characteristically con- 
sidered ineffective if he fails to complete a satisfactory amount of work 

An Introduction to Perfornmnce Analysis 5 

within a designated time span. A third dimension may be considered pri- 
marily a derivative of these two, especially of quantity, but is so widely 
utilized as an independent criterion that it seems desirable to do so here. 
This is time spent on the job. It includes absenteeism, lateness, lost time, 
premature separation, etc. The individual who spends insufficient time in 
job performance is generally judged ineflFective on that basis alone. His 
impact on company goals derives from the fact that if he is not present 
and working, he cannot produce an adequate quantity of work; or if he 
attempts to do so within an insufficient time span ( perhaps he has missed 
three out of the five working days in the week), the quality of his work 
will inevitably su£Fer. There is no question that the person who spends so 
little time on the job that he cannot do his work in a satisfactory manner 
is, and should be, considered ineffective. This is true irrespective of the 
cause. A man who has a serious illness which prevents him from working 
for a long period of time is an unsatisfactory employee insofar as his con- 
tribution to company goals is concerned, even though by almost any other 
criterion he would be judged an object for sympathy rather than disap- 

The final aspect of performance is more complex than the preceding 
three. It refers to the degree of cooperation with others in attaining or- 
ganizational goals. In a sense this contains two related dimensions. It 
means in part the impact of the individual on the performance of co- 
workers. The man who in some manner reduces the quantity or quality 
of the work done by other members of the group, or who reduces the time 
they spend at work, may be considered ineffective with reference to this 
criterion. This aspect of performance also includes the direct impact of the 
individual on the attainment of organizational goals. Men who steal from 
the company, who incur court judgments against the company for dam- 
ages, or who frequently break equipment and waste materials in the 
course of production all have a direct negative impact on profits. 

This fourth dimension is, of course, particularly relevant in evaluating 
managers, since the very nature of the managerial job requires taking ac- 
tion which is directed at influencing the performance of others and mak- 
ing decisions which have a direct bearing on profits. If a manager himself 
acts in such a way as to have a consistently detrimental effect on the work 
performance of his subordinates, then he is likely to be labeled ineffective. 
Similarly, the manager who frequently makes decisions which prove to 
be costly blunders, or who seriously threatens the survival of the organi- 
zation in some way, may well receive the same designation. Performance 
analysis as presented here is a procedure which a manager may use to 
minimize the probability of his being considered below standard by this 
fourth criterion. These pages attempt to provide him with knowledge and 

6 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

tools to employ in determining the causes of performance failure and the 
appropriate corrective action. As such, the book is a means to a positive, 
rather than a negative, impact on the performance of others. 

It is now possible to answer the question which prefaced this discus- 
sion: What is meant by poor or ineffective performance? Ineffective per- 
formance is the failure to achieve minimal standards as established by 
line superiors and appropriate organizational groups. These standards 
represent cutting points on certain dimensions or aspects of performance 
which have been established in view of their relationships to organiza- 
tional objectives. Four such dimensions have been noted: quality of work, 
quantity, presence on the job, and cooperation with others in attaining 
organizational goals. A man may fail in one of these dimensions or in all 
of them; for the purpose of defining ineffectiveness it matters little. Never- 
theless, in terms of the problem confronting the responsible manager, the 
number of ways in which a subordinate fails is an important consideration. 
A man who does outstanding work, never misses a day, has a positive im- 
pact on others, but is excessively slow, represents a very different type of 
problem from the individual who is below standard in all four areas. Yet 
both are ineffective. 

Screening and Firing as Solutions 

The question remains : Why is it necessary for a manager to analyze each 
instance of performance failure with a view to determining causation? 
Why, in fact, must he face the problem of ineffective performance at all? 
Is it not possible to screen out at the time of employment all those who 
would subsequently fail? And cannot all candidates for promotion be 
similarly screened, so that any who would be ineffective in the higher- 
level position can be eliminated from further consideration? In short, 
cannot selection procedures lift the weight of ineffective performance 
from the backs of managers thus eliminating the need for performance 
analysis and for books such as this? 

Unfortunately science has not yet produced techniques which are ca- 
pable of eliminating ineffectives from a company's work force in this man- 
ner. Screening in industry today can and does result in a sizable reduction 
in the amount of poor performance ( 12, 152 ) . Without these techniques 
the number of problem cases confronting any manager would unques- 
tionably be much greater. And in all probability, more extensive and ef- 
fective utilization of the techniques currently available could even further 
reduce the extent of performance failure. Yet in a practical sense, though 
perhaps not in a theoretical one, there are limits to what can be accom- 
plished. Certainly screening and selection (the words refer to opposite 

An Introduction to Performance Analysis 7 

sides of the same process ) face some obstacles which to date have proved 

A major difficulty is that the available measuring devices are far from 
perfect. They do not always reveal a characteristic when it is present or 
the exact extent to which it is present. This is true in varying degrees of all 
the selection techniques currently in use: interviews, application blanks, 
psychological tests, reference checks, credit bureau investigations, physi- 
cal examinations. All of these, whether they attempt to obtain a sample 
of typical behavior, a sample of physical functioning, or information on 
previous behavior, are subject to some error. People do not always tell all 
they might during interviews, for example, and even physical measures 
such as those commonly employed in testing vision and audition are, on 
occasion, unreliable. In spite of recent advances, there is still a major need 
for further research in psychological and biological measurement and pre- 

In connection with personnel selection, psychological tests are being 
increasingly employed. Some comment on the trend should be made at 
this point. There has been some contention that these tests are devices for 
identifying characteristics which an employer may wish to use as a basis 
for screening, but which have no real relationship to job performance. Yet 
the evidence is overwhelmingly against this conclusion. Thousands of 
studies have been conducted which indicate that a great variety of tests 
can and do predict, with accuracy well beyond that which could be at- 
tributed to mere luck, who will and will not be likely to perform effec- 
tively (4). It is easy to sympathize with those who must take the tests and 
even to understand their occasional resistance to the whole idea of testing, 
but from a managerial viewpoint it is difficult to justify a failure to employ 
tools which have again and again been proved capable of reducing the 
incidence of ineffective performance. 

The questioning of personality tests has been especially frequent, in 
particular the questioning of the so-called projective measures such as the 
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), the Tomkins-Hom Picture Ar- 
rangement Test (PAT), the Rorschach, the various adjective checklists, 
and the sentence-completion scales. Some writers have contended that 
these projective tests represent an unwarranted invasion of privacy, since 
the person tested does not know what he is saying about himself and may 
even reveal characteristics which he has never recognized in himself at all. 
Such writers believe that it is unethical for an employer to obtain such 
information and use it in selecting employees or in placing them in posi- 
tions where they are most likely to be effective. Yet there is considerable 
evidence that tests of this kind are related to job performance. They can 
identify those who are doing well or poorly in certain jobs with a surpris- 

8 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ingly high degree of precision, and they can be used to predict those who 
will be likely to fail (46, 77, 82, 185). If we are to proscribe their use for 
purposes of job placement because the person being tested is unaware of 
what he is reveaHng, we should also proscribe on the same basis most of 
the tests a physician uses in connection with the preemployment physical 

Even when good selection techniques are available, however, they are 
not always employed with maximum eflFectiveness. Perhaps they never 
can be. There is always an element of human error, always the possibility 
that the person applying the screening procedure will overlook something 
or make a mistake. If, for instance, psychological tests administered as 
part of an applicant testing battery are rescored later at a more leisurely 
pace, errors characteristically emerge. Most are of little practical signifi- 
cance — one or two points one way or the other. Occasionally, however, a 
sizable disparity is found. For example, a whole column of the answer 
sheet may have been skipped or counted twice. The same kinds of diffi- 
culties are found with other techniques. Interviewers frequently forget 
important information. Physicians fail to note important cues to diagnosis. 
X-ray pictures require considerable skill of the user, and a tired nurse or 
medical technician can easily overlook a crucial sign. 

In addition, considerations of economy tend to limit the use of some of 
the available selection techniques. For example, relatively effective 
tests for epilepsy and other disorders of the brain have been discovered 
and could be included in the usual preemployment physical examination. 
But the equipment is very costly, the time required considerable, and the 
incidence of these disorders within the labor force rather low. It is not 
economical to screen candidates for employment on this basis. Accord- 
ingly, such cases as do occur go undetected. The same is true, in many 
instances, of psychological tests. A good selection battery for a given job 
is developed only after an extensive process involving comparison of test 
scores with various indexes of performance effectiveness. This is worth- 
while only if the company hires a number of people in the position or posi- 
tions for which the test battery was developed. Since most companies have 
many jobs requiring only an occasional new employee, there are charac- 
teristically large numbers of people hired without as extensive screening 
as might be desired if cost were not a consideration. 

The failure of screening to provide a total solution to the problem of 
ineffectiveness is not, however, entirely attributable to diflRculties associ- 
ated with the selection instruments themselves. There are also such fac- 
tors as ambiguous definitions of performance and unstable standards. For 
example, two supervisors may utilize different criteria in evaluating the 
performance of subordinates. Factors such as these make it possible for 
two employees whose behavior on the job is practically identical to be eval- 

An Introduction to Performance Analysis 9 

uated quite diflFerently. One may be considered ineffective, the other not. 
No amount of research on selection techniques alone can yield a way of 
predicting the evaluated performance of these men correctly. Either some 
approach w^hich w^ill make allowances for differences in methods of judg- 
ing performance must be developed, or objective and precise criteria of 
performance must be consistently applied. At present no completely ade- 
quate solutions of either kind are available, although some relatively good 
working approximations are in use. 

This problem is further compounded by the fact that the same man 
may work under a succession of supervisors all utilizing somewhat differ- 
ent criteria of performance and standards of effectiveness. Where objec- 
tive measures of performance have been developed, usually by some or- 
ganizational group such as methods and standards or personnel research, 
these variations in evaluations are minimized. But there are many jobs, 
especially at the management level, where subjective judgments by a su- 
perior are all that are available. The application of screening procedures 
is clearly limited by the degree of precision and consistency attained in 
the area of performance evaluation. It is not possible to attain high levels 
of success in screening out ineffectives when one cannot be absolutely cer- 
tain regarding what will constitute failure at a given time. 

Change is, of course, not restricted to the matter of standards. Any shift 
in the work environment, the composition of the work group, the individ- 
ual himself, or the job requirements may make for errors of prediction and 
thus less than perfect screening. Emotional and physical disorders may 
develop in a man who was quite well at the time of hiring. Interests and 
motivation may change. Or the job itself may have to adjust to a changing 
technology. A man originally selected for work as a ledger man may well 
prove ineffective as a machine operator when automated accounting pro- 
cedures are introduced. The function performed remains the same, but 
the skills and duties required have shifted drastically. So far, initial screen- 
ing procedures which vdll predict and adjust for such changes have not 
been forthcoming. Perhaps they never will be. 

There are also times when potential ineffectives are permitted to enter 
organizations even though they have been identified with great precision 
at hiring. This is likely to be the case when the labor market becomes ex- 
tremely tight. If shortages in some occupation are so acute that a sufficient 
number of people cannot be found, a firm may have to accept applicants 
for whom the probability of failure is known to be high. A few such peo- 
ple may prove to be better than expected. Others will perform in a satis- 
factory manner for a brief period of time. It is better to have someone do- 
ing something than a position unfilled because no qualified applicants 
can be found. There is evidence from a variety of sources that eventually 
standards tend to be lowered under these circumstances. The Army dur- 

10 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ing World War II clearly modified its discharge policy, and thus one defi- 
nition of failure, to meet conditions existing in its manpower pool (37). 

The hiring of potential ineffectives is not limited to periods of shortage, 
however. Since a man may fail in one aspect of his work while at lie 
same time performing successfully in other areas, a company may reach a 
favorable decision on employment in spite of known weaknesses. On oc- 
casion it is expedient to accept deficiencies in order to gain the advantages 
of certain strengths. This is particularly likely to be true in the case of a 
stafiF specialist or a policy maker. The company will then characteristically 
make every effort to minimize the consequences in the man's areas of in- 
effectiveness. This does not reHeve the man's superior of the need for deal- 
ing with the problem of failure, however. It only restricts the manager's 
freedom of action in this respect, since the man is hired with a proviso 
that he will be retained and in a job that makes maximum use of his tal- 

For a variety of reasons it appears that the manager does have to deal 
with ineffectiveness and must continue to do so in the foreseeable future. 
Screening may reduce the burden but cannot eliminate it entirely. There 
is, however, another alternative which would obviate the need for per- 
formance analysis although not the problem of ineffectiveness. If all who 
become ineffective could be fired as soon as their failings became evident, 
there would be no need to determine the causes of the difficulty. Diagnosis 
would be unnecessary, because the same solution could be applied irre- 
spective of causation. This is an appeahng answer. Where there has been 
an opportunity to employ it, managers have frequently done so. Histori- 
cally, firing has been the preferred solution in most instances of perform- 
ance failure. But the world is constantly changing, and for a variety of 
reasons the business segment has frequently been at the forefront of the 
change. This has been particularly true in matters related to the manage- 
ment of people and manpower utiHzation. Whereas organizations in 
many other segments of society still remain free to apply their ultimate 
sanction, dismissal, almost at will, this alternative is available to business 
firms only on a restricted basis. In fact, its availabiHty has been decreas- 
ing so steadily that at the present time it cannot be considered in any sense 
a preferred solution to problems of performance failure. There are other 
courses of action which are much more appropriately employed. 

At present the climate of pubHc opinion and the external governmental 
controls within which the business firm operates make discipHnary action 
for dishonest or antisocial behavior and retirement the only completely 
acceptable bases for the forcible separation of an employee. In addition, 
layoffs are generally accepted by the pubHc as a matter of economic ne- 
cessity, although they are, of course, charged against a company in com- 
puting its rate of contribution to unemployment compensation (as are 

An Introduction to Performance Analysis 11 

retirements, in some instances). LayoflFs and retirements, however, char- 
acteristically have little impact on the proportion of the work force which 
is ineffective, and disciplinary firing is actually applied in a very small 
number of cases. Layoffs are usually carried out on a seniority rather than 
merit basis, with the result that those with poor performance records are 
no more likely to go than anyone else. Retirements, insofar as they are 
based on strict adherence to a predetermined retirement age, cannot take 
differences in effectiveness into account. Disability retirement, of course, 
is performance-related, and so are a few of the early retirement plans de- 
veloped in the past few years. 

Why is it that firing for poor performance has become so difficult? As 
previously noted, the pressure of public opinion is a major factor. With 
increased realization that the man himself may not be entirely responsible 
for his failure, and that mere increased effort on his part may not solve the 
problem, there has come a feeling that dismissal may often be unfair and 
inequitable. This view has without question been influential in producing 
or supporting many of the more specific conditions which tend to limit a 
manager s freedom in this respect. 

One factor restricting dismissal in cases of ineffective performance is the 
necessity of paying for work not performed. Companies contribute to state 
unemployment compensation funds in accordance with an experience 
rating procedure which, except in instances where the fund is seriously 
depleted, results in greater payments being made by firms with a greater 
number of ex-employees filing claims. In addition, many companies have 
agreements, of either a formal or informal nature, requiring severance 
payments to any employee who must be separated after a minimum pe- 
riod of service. The consequence of these two factors is that the mere act 
of dismissing a man results in certain costs. Although these costs may not 
be great, they are sufficient to require consideration when firing is con- 

There are other costs which may develop, depending on the circum- 
stances. If there is any possibility that a man's firing represents an unfair 
labor practice, i.e., that he has been dismissed because of union activity, 
the company may have to reinstate him with back pay. Even if the com- 
pany wins such a case, either before the Labor Relations Board or in the 
courts, the process is likely to be time-consuming and expensive. Further- 
more, any discharge may result in a grievance being filed by the union 
and perhaps in arbitration. Or a strike may be precipitated. This is partic- 
ularly likely to occur where a no-strike clause has not been written into 
the labor contract. But even with such a clause, there is the possibility of 
a wildcat strike or a slowdown. Under any of these eventuafities the costs 
to the company, either directly or in terms of lost production, may be siz- 

12 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

able, and the original decision by management may have to be reversed. 
The man may not stay fired. 

Even without union intervention there is a possibility that those who 
have worked with the man may feel that his firing was inequitable and, 
accordingly, respond with actions detrimental to company objectives. 
The group may set out to make things difficult for the supervisor in charge 
— to get even with the company. In all probability this threat has been 
somewhat exaggerated by management, but it still represents a distinct 
possibility and therefore does, in fact, serve to deter many who might 
otherwise resort to dismissal. In many respects this expectation of em- 
ployee reprisal is similar to the expectation of consumer reprisal. It is 
possible that a man's sense of injustice may be of such intensity as to make 
him attempt to convince others that they should not buy the company's 
products or apply for work there. Thus, both the product market and tiie 
available labor market may be reduced. Again, management may some- 
times overemphasize the significance of this public retaliation, but it is 
nevertheless a possibility. The prevalence of such views, and the presump- 
tion that at least some negative public reaction, no matter how minute, 
will result, tend to minimize the probability that a decision to discharge 
will be made. 

There are other, less elusive, factors. Training a new employee is always 
a costly process. When a man is fired, the company not only loses the pos- 
sibility of gaining any further return on its investment in him, but it usu- 
ally incurs the cost of training his replacement. For this reason it is ineffi- 
cient to dismiss anyone whose skills can be used and who can perform 
effectively somewhere in the organization. Transfer, if feasible, may make 
for a considerable saving. Therefore, most companies no longer permit a 
man's immediate superior to make decisions regarding firing on a com- 
pletely unilateral basis. With rising replacement costs resulting from the 
extensive training which a rapidly changing technology requires, and with 
the added possibility that the man might be used elsewhere in the organi- 
zation, firing has come to have implications extending well beyond the 
man's immediate group. Furthermore, it may be that conditions in the 
labor force and within the company make finding a suitable replacement 
difficult. The individual manager may not be aware of these conditions. 
Such circumstances have tended to make firing an organizational rather 
than a purely personal decision and have consequently served to reduce 
the incidence of dismissal. 

We have already noted that a man may be ineffective in certain respects 
but entirely satisfactory insofar as other performance dimensions are con- 
cerned. In many such cases firing is completely out of the question as a 
solution to the performance failure, since the man's special competencies 
are too badly needed. 

An Introduction to Performance Analysis 13 

Finally, there are certain pressures within organizations which, whether 
they should or not, do in fact tend to weigh against dismissal as a solution 
to problems of ineflFectiveness. In many firms there is an unwritten policy 
that any man who has been retained for a considerable period of time, 
perhaps ten years or so, should not be fired. If he has been unsatisfactory 
from the beginning, he should have been released long before, and there- 
fore the company by keeping him has made itself largely responsible for 
the current problem. If his ine£Fectiveness is of comparatively recent ori- 
gin, he should be retained out of appreciation for his contributions in the 
past — for having given the best years of his life to the company. 

Furthermore, there is often a feeling within the ranks of a management 
group that no one member should be responsible for the firing of another. 
There is always the possibility that political (and personal) rather than 
performance considerations might be given undue weight. Managers are, 
of course, forced out, but frequently this is done only after much soul- 
searching. The possibility that negative social consequences and perhaps 
even almost complete ostracism may result cannot be taken lightly. 
Loyalty to the managerial group is a very important thing in any com- 
pany, and the discharge of a fellow member, especially if he is at all pop- 
ular, may bring down heavy sanctions on the heads of those responsible. 

These pressures are not, however, always purely external. They derive 
from values and beliefs which are widely held. They may well operate 
within a manager himself to keep him from doing anything that might 
contribute to a man's being dismissed. It is not easy to fire a man. The ex- 
perience of guilt can be very unpleasant. It may well be that this is the 
strongest deterrent of all. 

Pressures such as these, which may develop without any relation to the 
goals of the organization, tend to combine with the factors of a more prag- 
matic nature to make most managers today view discharge as a very un- 
satisfactory solution to ineffectiveness. Added to this is the fact that firing, 
like screening, cannot save a manager from dealing analytically with the 
problem of ineffective performance. He must know whether there is any 
possibility, within the limitations set by economic considerations, of im- 
proving the man's effectiveness. Only when all other alternatives have 
been ruled out can firing be considered the appropriate solution. But al- 
ternatives cannot be eliminated without some knowledge of what has in 
fact caused the difficulty, i.e., without some type of performance analysis. 

Strategic Factors in Ineffective Performance 

Job performance is a complex product, a derivative of the interaction 
among many factors in the individual and the world around him. Perform- 
ance analysis involves the identification of these factors, or causes, as they 

14 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

contribute to ineJBFective performance. What are the strategic factors which 
have combined to make an individual perform at a level below that es- 
tablished by existing standards? This is the diagnostic question on which 
all corrective action is predicated. The chapters which follow provide a 
framework for answering such a question. They contain information about 
the aspects of the individual and his environment which may prove stra- 
tegic and about the various ways in which these aspects may operate to 
produce failure. They also contain information regarding the extent to 
which, and the conditions under which, strategic factors may be altered 
to yield a satisfactory level of performance. 

Performance analysis requires a manager to pose a series of questions. Is 
it possible that this— or this — or this aspect of the individual or his situa- 
tion may be a cause of failure? These questions are checked against the 
information available on the individual and his work. Some are rejected 
as untenable; it is unlikely that the failure has been caused in this way. 
Others seem to fit the data; they do in fact refer to what appear to be 
crucial determinants. The strategic factors in any case of ineffective per- 
formance are thus revealed by the specific questions which receive an af- 
firmative answer. 

The number of factors which may be strategic appears to be large — so 
large, in fact, that any manager is likely to have difficulty remembering all 
the questions that should be asked. It is possible, however, to categorize 
the various potential strategic factors under a limited number of head- 
ings and thus reduce considerably the cumbersomeness of the analytic 
process. The titles of Chapters 2 through 10 represent just such a schema: 
All possible strategic factors that have been identified to date fall into one 
of the nine areas. 

Although extended treatment at this point is unnecessary, a brief state- 
ment regarding the components of this analytic framework should show 
what is meant by a strategic factor. The first four categories refer to aspects 
of the individual. There may be some intellectual deficiency relative to 
job requirements: The man may be lacking in knowledge, intelligence, or 
mental ability. Or there may be some emotional problem, perhaps an emo- 
tional disorder or illness affecting performance, or perhaps simply a lack 
of consonance between job demands and characteristic ways of express- 
ing feelings. Again, there may be a conflict of a motivational nature: 
Strong motives may be blocked at work, or they may be satisfied through 
activities which are at variance with the demands of effective perform- 
ance. Finally, there may be a physical disorder, deficiency, or character- 
istic which is detrimental on the job or perhaps incapacitating. 

The next four categories refer to the various groups of which the man 
is a member. The man's family or some similar face-to-face group may 
precipitate problems which conflict with job performance. The same may 

An Introduction to Performance Analysis 15 

be true of the work group, which includes the man's immediate supervisor 
as one of its members. Or the cause of the difficulty may he with the com- 
pany, which, of course, performs a variety of acts and establishes a variety 
of conditions with a direct impact on individual members. Finally, per- 
formance failure may result when some characteristic of the individual or 
the job does not fulfill, or is not in harmony with, the demands of society 
as a whole. These societal demands may be in the form of cultural values 
or formal laws. 

The ninth category has been called situational. It takes into account 
those nonhuman aspects of a man's environment which may be strategic 
to performance failure. It also includes the actions of various groups of 
which the man may not be specifically a member, but which nevertheless 
impinge on him and influence his behavior. 

This analytic schema, although it has been developed from the study of 
ineflFective performance, would probably be adequate to encompass su- 
perior or outstanding performance as well. That is, factors of an intellec- 
tual, emotional, motivational, physical, group, organizational, cultural, 
and situational nature presumably also act to make a man exceptionally 
effective in his work. But the specific strategic factors within categories do 
not appear to be the same for high levels of effectiveness as for ineffec- 
tiveness. This is an important caution. The fact that the lack of a given 
characteristic contributes to failure in a certain type of work does not 
necessarily mean that an abundance of the characteristic will produce 
great success. Taking appropriate corrective action with regard to a stra- 
tegic factor does not mean that superior performance will result; only that 
an effective or satisfactory level is likely to be established. 

The point can be made more clearly with reference to a specific study. 
Research conducted to determine what characteristics made for success 
and failure among dealer salesmen working for a petroleum company 
(46) indicated that a dislike of social situations and of social interaction 
was associated with poor job performance. Conversely, a wish to be with 
other people as much as possible was characteristic among the successful 
performers. This is what would be expected if feeling with regard to social 
situations were strategic in both ineffective and outstanding performance. 
But while a lack of aggressiveness was frequent among the poor salesmen, 
a great deal of aggressiveness did not contribute to success. By another 
criterion, the superior salesmen in the study were often self-confident and 
sure of themselves. They were also likely to be very happy people. But 
there was nothing to indicate that either a lack of self-confidence or un- 
happiness and depression were particularly prevalent among those who 
were failing. It is clear that we cannot move directly from knowledge in 
the area of ineffectiveness to statements about factors contributing to su- 
perior performance. 

16 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

This type of discontinuous relationship may be illustrated by some re- 
cent research dealing with the determinants of high and low morale (70). 
Dissatisfaction with a job was most frequently a result of either company 
policy and administration or poor supervision. These factors rarely con- 
tributed to high levels of satisfaction, however. The implication is that 
irrespective of what is done to construct good policies, administer them 
well, and provide good technical supervision, there cannot be any sizable 
shift to high levels of job satisfaction within the organization. The best 
that can be hoped for is a diminution in any dissatisfaction that may exist. 
Positive satisfaction, on the other hand, seemed to result primarily from 
such factors as achievements , recognition , interesting work^ opportunity to 
exercise responsibil itv. and promotion. A lack of these five factors, how- 
ever, was not equally likely to produce dissatisfaction. 

A similar approach to the study of performance (rather than job satis- 
faction ) has not as yet been attempted on a comparable scale. Also, there 
is a dearth of information on the determinants of outstanding accomplish- 
ment. Nevertheless, it is clear from the research which has been done that 
the strategic factors in ineffective performance are not always identical 
with those operating at the superior level. 

The Scientist and the Practitioner 

The chapters which follow deal with the various strategic factors in in- 
effective performance and with the solutions which can be applied. The 
material derives from two rather different sources and utilizes two differ- 
ent kinds of evidence. The approach is thus to some degree a synthesis of 
viewpoints, and it is important to differentiate between them. 

In the sciences it is characteristic to adopt an attitude of cautious skep- 
ticism, to maintain a position of neutrality until all the evidence is in. This 
is the essence of scientific objectivity. Theory, hypothesis, and assumption 
must be clearly differentiated from empirical fact, and where the evidence 
is inadequate or insufficient, the only tenable position is one of uncer- 
tainty. "I don't know" is not only an acceptable response to questioning but 
a highly valued one. For only through the admission that adequate knowl- 
edge is lacking can significant questions and research that will advance 
knowledge be evolved. 

In the social sciences, where real progress has been made only in rela- 
tively recent years, this attitude has often been taken to mean that until 
much more extensive evidence has been obtained and a body of tested 
theory produced, practical applications should not be attempted. Some 
writers have argued against premature application on the grounds that 
extension to practical ends is not feasible while scientific knowledge re- 
mains so incomplete (175). Others have contested this view, contending 

An Introduction to Performance Analysis 17 

that if such conclusions as are derived from scientific studies are not in- 
terpreted and put to practical use by the researchers themselves, they may 
well be perverted by others with a need for knowledge but less familiarity 
with the laws of scientific evidence ( 171 ) . Nevertheless, strictures against 
overinterpretation of data and premature generalization remain strong 
and serve, in many segments of the scientific community, effectively to 
limit attempts to answer practical questions. "I don't know" is still a 
widely voiced answer to questions of an applied nature. From the scien- 
tific standpoint it is often the most appropriate response in view of the 
present state of knowledge. 

Necessary as this attitude of skepticism and objectivity may be to scien- 
tific advance, however, it is inconsistent with the demands placed upon 
the practitioner. Management has always had to make decisions with 
insufficient information available. Unlike the scientist, the manager can 
rarely resort to "I don t know." He must accumulate as much valid infor- 
mation as he can and then act. He attempts to minimize the risk of error, 
but he cannot defer judgment until all relevant data are in. As a result of 
his specific objectives and the particular demands of his job, the manager 
may, therefore, generalize from and use scientific findings in ways that 
most scientists would not even consider. 

The difference here is not merely one of philosophy or personality. Sci- 
ence must recognize what is and is not known in order to formulate mean- 
ingful questions for study. It must take every precaution to assure that 
when answers are finally obtained, they are correct. Management, how- 
ever, is not charged with the task of advancing knowledge; it is responsible 
for the profitable operation of an enterprise. Under such conditions time 
becomes a crucial factor in decision making. Risk must be incurred and 
uncertainty accepted if decisions are to be made now, at the time when 
they are needed, rather than later when they have been thoroughly re- 
searched. This should not be an excuse for sloppy thinking. But it does 
rule out the process of long-drawn-out study which is permitted to the 
scientist and which on occasion is so irritating to the manager when he 
seeks scientific assistance. 

As a result of this time pressure in decisions, management tends to bring 
all currently available information to bear. It cannot be excessively con- 
cerned about the scientific credibility of its sources. In many areas of 
managerial action, objective scientific studies are almost totally lacking. 
Any source of evidence or information is utilized that appears to have 
value. If science has provided some relevant information, it will, of course, 
be used. But where this is not the case, the void is characteristically filled 
with the wisdom and experience which have been developed in the world 
of practitioners. This expertise may be found between the covers of a book 
or in the heads of other managers, or it may be part of the experience of 

18 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

the man making the decision. Wherever it is found, it must be evaluated 
for vahdity and relevance, rejected or accepted on these bases, and then 
used along with available scientific data to reach a conclusion. 

This book has been written primarily in the latter tradition, while at the 
same time it draws heavily on knowledge accumulated in the social sci- 
ences. It is intended as a guide for managers whose jobs require them to 
make decisions under some degree of uncertainty. Thus, the attempt is to 
integrate experience and scientific data into a series of recommendations 
for action. With more, and more valid, information in the future, alterna- 
tive recommendations may subsequently prove to be preferable. But the 
book is intended as a guide to action in the here and now, not as a treatise 
on the state of scientific knowledge. It is for this reason that it has been 
entitled The Management of Ineffective Performance rather than The 
Nature of Ineffective Performance. 


The bond which unites the various concepts and ideas to be 
discussed in this chapter is their relationship to the intellectual sphere — to 
the ability to think, know, and solve problems. We will be concerned with 
constructs such as intelligence, mental ability, knowledge, aptitude, 
talent, literacy, IQ, mental deficiency, learning ability, and the like. This 
is an area in which a great deal of research has been conducted, originally 
because of the stimulus provided by educators, more recently as a result 
of the practical needs of military administrators, psychiatric practitioners, 
and industrial managers. There will be no attempt here to provide a com- 
prehensive review of this research. Our primary interest is in a group of 
factors as they may be strategic in producing performance failure, not in 
a general knowledge of human intellectual functioning. 

Nevertheless, as with most of the areas to be discussed in succeeding 
chapters, some reference to social science theory and the evidence which 
supports it is essential. It is unlikely that a performance analysis carried 
out without knowledge of the underlying dynamics of possible strategic 
factors can ever achieve a very high level of success. Some background in 
the social sciences, and more particularly in those aspects of psychology, 
sociology, political science, and anthropology which deal with human 
behavior in an organizational setting, appears to be a prerequisite for the 
eflFective management of ineflFective performance. Some readers will, of 
course, take issue with this view. It is only in recent years that the social 
sciences have made substantial contributions to the study of performance, 
and much of this work has received little publicity. It is hoped that those 
who have some doubts regarding the practical applications of social sci- 
ence in this area will reserve final judgment. The evidence in this and 
ensuing chapters should bear upon their decision. 

Initially in the present chapter, attention will be focused on back- 
ground knowledge largely from the field of psychology concerning intel- 


20 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ligence. Once the relevant theory has been presented, the next section will 
isolate the various aspects of intellectual functioning which may be stra- 
tegic in failure. This differentiation within the intellectual sphere is impor- 
tant. It is not sufficient to say that a man is too dull or stupid to perform 
his job. More precise statements regarding causation are necessary so that 
realistic choices can be made between several possible types of correc- 
tive action. Thus, the chapter will move from general theory to knowledge 
regarding the relationship between intellectual factors and job perform- 
ance, and only then to the prescription of appropriate remedies. A final 
section will deal with intelligence differences existing in various parts of 
the United States and among various groups in the population. 

Theory of Intelligence 

The concept of intelligence refers to the degree or extent to which an 
individual is ready to learn new things rapidly and solve problems (rea- 
son) correctly. Thus, mental ability is to a large extent a function of exist- 
ing knowledge — at least, insofar as existing knowledge can be used as a 
basis for acquiring and developing further information. The man who 
knows very little about an area, say thermodynamics, will characteristi- 
cally have much more difficulty exhibiting intellectual competence when 
dealing with new materials in that field than the man who has a tremen- 
dous fund of related learning. This viewpoint concerning the nature of 
intelligence has been elaborated in the author's Intelligence in the United 
States (12). It has been espoused by many psychologists over the past 
twenty years and so far has apparently withstood the test of time. 

There appear to be three factors which influence the extent to which a 
person may possess this ability to learn, or developed capacity for reason- 
ing, which we call intelligence. Briefly, these are: native potential, moti- 
vation to learn, and environmental stimulus potential. Each will be dis- 
cussed in turn. 

Native potential refers to a hypothesized characteristic of brain struc- 
ture or chemistry which serves to facilitate and limit the development of 
what is actually manifested as intelligence. This native potential is not 
synonymous with intelligence; it is a potentiality for learning only. Peo- 
ple presumably differ in some manner with regard to it, and this differ- 
ence appears to be already established at birth through heredity. But the 
differences existing at this level are not likely to coincide with those found 
at the level of actual, manifest intelligence. Native potential influences 
the ease with which various degrees of mental ability may be attained and 
sets a top limit on the possibilities for development. Whether or not de- 
velopment actually occurs, however, depends on the other two factors: 
motivation and environment. No intelligence test measures this heredi- 

Intelligence and Job Knowledge 21 

tary given. In fact, we have no way of measuring it at all. When 
techniques are found, they will almost certainly be physiological in na- 
ture rather than psychological. 

It seems appropriate to ask, since no one has ever seen or measured a 
native potential, why we believe it exists as a factor in brain functioning. 
The evidence derives from two sources. It is known that injury to the 
brain may result in a sizable loss in mental ability (9). This does not al- 
ways happen, and the exact nature of the loss seems to depend on a va- 
riety of factors not yet fully understood. Nevertheless, injury to the brain 
can affect intelligence, and injuries to other parts of the body characteris- 
tically do not. It seems likely, therefore, that something about the brain 
determines intelligence level. 

In addition, it is known that some people are born with a very limited 
capacity for learning. No matter how strong the wish and how great the 
opportunity, they are able to learn and retain only a minimal amount. 
Many must be maintained in institutions for the feebleminded. This 
seems to indicate that there are differences in mental ability existing from 
birth which are comparable to the differences in physique and physical 
capacities that are so much more easily noted. 

It is possible, of course, that native potential is a factor only at this 
lowest level — that intellectual development is limited by some deficiency 
in native potential only among those whom we consider feebleminded 
and that all others are born equal in this respect. There are many studies, 
however, which indicate a marked similarity of intelligence levels among 
children born to the same parents, even when these children are raised in 
different homes (23). Unfortunately, none of these studies has been de- 
signed with sufficient precision to provide absolutely conclusive evidence 
regarding the role of heredity. It is therefore conceivable, although im- 
probable, that motivation and environment may be sufficient to account 
for all known differences in mental ability except those attributable to 
brain injury or disease and those existing at the very lowest level. 

The evidence with regard to the role of motivation in intellectual de- 
velopment is more conclusive. It has been clearly demonstrated that the 
person who is actively interested in learning and developing himself, who 
wants to accumulate new knowledge, will in fact develop his native po- 
tential more fully, other things being equal, than the person who has no 
such interests. This is particularly true in childhood. Studies show ( 11, 19) 
that children who are strongly competitive, who are sufficiently independ- 
ent to initiate many activities on their own, and who are motivated to 
achieve (who are ambitious) are likely to increase sharply in IQ. When 
the child tends to lean frequently on others for help, taking no interest in 
accomplishing things on his own, the development of intelligence is cor- 
respondingly curtailed. This view regarding the role of motivation in in- 

22 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

tellectual development is further supported by a sizable body of experi- 
mental work in the field of learning theory (10), which emphasizes the 
important role striving and motivation have in the learning process. 

The evidence on the third factor, environmental stimulus potential, is 
equally strong. The richer the environment, and thus the greater the op- 
portunity for learning, the more likely a person is to develop his native 
potential. Certainly if the environment is extremely barren in an intel- 
lectual sense, it makes little difference that native potential is high and 
motivation to learn strong. Learning will be curtailed and intelligence 
v^dll suffer. 

There is a considerable body of research supporting this view ( 23 ) . In 
one study children in England who had been brought up on canalboats 
were tested and the intelligence of those at different age levels com- 
pared. Until about the age of six, these children scored nearly as well as 
those living elsewhere. But the older children, who attended school only 
5 percent of the time normal for English children, were markedly deficient 
relative to others of a similar age. Whereas most children have a constant 
exposure to new material as a result of their schooling and thus continue 
to develop their intelligence, the canalboat children had practically ex- 
hausted the potential for learning in their environment by the age of six. 
A similar drop in rate of learning has been found among children living in 
isolated mountainous areas in the southeastern United States (parts of 
Tennessee and Virginia ) . 

This influence of environmental opportunity was demonstrated in a 
striking manner during World War II ( 24 ) . A cross section of the soldiers 
inducted for military service during 1943 was given the old Army Alpha 
Test, the intelligence test which had been used during World War I. The 
scores for this group of typical World War II soldiers were then compared 
with those obtained by soldiers who served in 1918. The comparison in- 
dicated that during the twenty-five-year period there had been a rise of 
42 points, from an average of 62 to 104, in intelligence level. Seventy- 
eight percent of the World War II soldiers scored above the average sol- 
dier of World War I. This difference is almost certainly attributable to the 
marked rise in the educational level of this age group during the interim — 
from an average of 8.0 years of schooling to an average of 10.0. In addi- 
tion, teacher quality has been increasing and the school year lengthening. 
As we in the United States increase the available environmental stimulus 
potential through greater educational opportunity, we are, it seems, also 
raising the intelligence level of the population. 

The best available evidence suggests, then, that a person with very 
high intelligence must have a sizable native potential, must have possessed 
for a number of years ( especially during childhood ) a strong motivation 
for learning, and must have been exposed during this same period to a 

Intelligence and Job Knowledge 23 

rich learning environment. To the extent that any of these is lacking, his 
intelligence will suffer and the speed of new learning will be reduced. 
Mental ability is definitely not a direct and unchanging product of hered- 
itary conditions existing at birth. 

The discussion up to this point has treated intelligence as a single unitary 
concept. Although for some purposes this approach may be desirable, it 
is totally inadequate for providing an understanding of the strategic fac- 
tors in ineffective performance. As a result of differences in interests and 
motivation, as well as differences in opportunities for learning, most peo- 
ple develop abilities in certain areas and fail to develop them, or develop 
them to a lesser extent, in others. A child whose father takes apart the 
family car and then puts it back together again nearly every weekend is 
likely to develop similar interests himself. As he gets older he may work 
with his father and perhaps eventually buy a jalopy of his own to permit 
himself more freedom in experimentation. Under these circumstances one 
would expect a greater development of mechanical ability than in a child 
of equal native potential who spent most of his free time reading. 

In a similar manner many other abilities develop. Intelligence is the 
total complex of these special abilities as they exist in the individual. Any 
broad area in which people can become interested and learn may poten- 
tially serve as a basis for the development of a special ability. In actual 
fact, however, there are only four s uch areas which have received wide- 
spread study, and these four appear to be the ones which are most impor- 
tant in job performance. They are, in order of their apparent importance 
for the prediction of job proficiency: verbal abil ity — a knowledge of words 
and their use; numerical ability — skill in manipulating numbers; me^ 
chani cal ability— a capacity for dealing with mechanical objects and a 
knowledge of the principles which govern their operation; and spatial 
ability — skill in visualizing and relating objects in accordance with their 
shape and position. Tests of many other mental abilities have, of course, 
been developed, and a number of these have proved helpful in providing 
an understanding of some specific type of work performance. In addition, 
a great variety of tests exists which measure some limited aspect within 
each of the four areas mentioned. From the point of view of the manager, 
however, these four primary abilities are the most important, and a fa- 
miliarity with them should be sufficient to permit a satisfactory perform- 
ance analysis in most cases. 

There has been some tendency to assume that these abilities are dis- 
tributed so that everyone has at least one area in which he is outstanding. 
Unfortunately, the evidence does not support this view (8, 27). Although 
most people are somewhat more competent in certain areas than in 
others, and although there are certainly many instances where one or two 
abilities are considerably elevated, the most common situation is for all 

24 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

abilities to be at approximately the same level in a person. If one ability 
is well below the average, the others are likely to be similarly depressed. 
This finding is not too surprising in view of the information already pre- 
sented about the way intelligence develops. Although a person may be 
more interested in one area than another, the real and important moti- 
vational differences are between people who are in a general sense com- 
petitive, active, and curious and those who are not. Similarly, environ- 
ments are characteristically rich or poor in the opportunities they pro- 
vide for development in all areas. Grade schools almost invariably offer 
the child a chance to develop verbal, numerical, mechanical, and spatial 
abilities nearly simultaneously, although the first two characteristically 
receive the greatest emphasis. These similarities between the levels of 
motivation to learn and environmental stimulus potential in the various 
areas apparently account for the sizable relationship between abilities 
that has been found in the population as a whole. 

This discussion of the way in which the various abilities constitute in- 
telligence has failed to mention one widely used concept and a question 
that is frequently raised regarding it. There are several well-known tests 
which are usually considered to be measures of general intelligence or 
IQ: the Stanford Binet, the various Wechsler scales, the Army General 
Classification Test, the Otis measures, etc. But how can they measure such 
a general characteristic if intelligence is a complex of special abilities? 

It is perhaps best to note at the outset that these so-called IQ tests do 
not really provide information regarding a single aspect or competence. 
They are in fact conglomerates, which tap a variety of abilities and com- 
bine the results into a total score. Yet there is one ability which invariably 
predominates ( 12, 13 ) : The tests of general intelligence are primarily 
measures of verbal ability, although several other abilities are almost 
always included. 

There is good reason for the emphasis on verbal ability, since this ap- 
pears to be the most important aspect of intelligence in our society. It oc- 
cupies a position which is in many ways unique. Words and verbal struc- 
tures are our primary means of communication. In a society which is ad- 
vancing rapidly as new ideas and technologies develop, the transmission 
of knowledge takes on tremendous importance. A society in which com- 
munication was severely restricted would progress slowly, if at all. Each 
individual would have to start over again without benefit of the experi- 
ence of other people engaged in similar efforts. Under such conditions a 
large number of identical "discoveries" would be made in different places 
at different times. The situation would be somewhat analogous on a 
grand scale to that produced by security regulations today. Fields such 
as space exploration and nuclear physics have undoubtedly been ham- 

Intelligence and Job Knowledge 25 

pered in their development by limitations on communication across inter- 
national borders. 

In our society, then, information is transmitted largely through the 
written and spoken word. Teaching is primarily a verbal process. So too 
is thinking — because we communicate primarily with words, we tend to 
think with them also. This situation need not exist in all societies; other 
abilities may assume this superordinate position and presumably have, on 
occasion, throughout history. But in highly industrialized countries such 
as the United States, the predominance of the verbal would seem to be a 
necessity. It is only appropriate that the major measures of mental ability 
should reflect this cultural emphasis. 

We have so far dealt only with the theory of intelligence as it bears on 
the development of broad abilities or aptitudes. There are also, of course, 
more limited spheres of intellectual competence which people may pos- 
sess. These tend to be specific to particular jobs or job families. They rep- 
resent the intellectual skilk and knowledge required to perform certain 
kinds of work. To some extent job knowledge is unique to a specific posi- 
tion in a specific company. Much of this knowledge, however, has become 
associated with a given occupation. It is the knowledge of accounting re- 
quired to perform accounting functions, the knowledge of engineering 
required to perform as an engineer, and the knowledge of typing, short- 
hand, and filing required to be a satisfactory secretary. 

One additional aspect of intellectual functioning should be mentioned 
before turning to the relationship between intelligence and performance. 
There are some people who have considerable difficulty remembering 
things and using good judgment or common sense. Such people may 
score relatively well on most tests of mental abihties. Yet anyone who 
talks to them over an extended period of time is left with an indelible im- 
pression that there is something wrong with their intellectual functioning, 
that some deficit or deficiency exists. They may fabricate stories to cover 
gaps in memory, or they may complain about their inability to remember 
things. They may come to almost nonsensical decisions regarding appro- 
priate courses of action in certain areas, while retaining the capacity to 
make rational choices in other areas. They sometimes stop rather 
suddenly in the middle of a sentence as if they had forgotten entirely 
what they were talking about. 

Such people are likely to be suffering from some type of physical or 
emotional disorder which has produced inroads into the intellectual 
sphere. Reference has already been made to brain injuries and disorders. 
Conditions of this kind can bring about defects in memory and judgment 
of the type noted. Similarly, emotional disorders may carry with them a 
tendency to eliminate from consciousness that which is excessively dis- 

26 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

turbing, thereby producing what appears as a gap in memory. Strong 
emotions may influence the processes of intelUgence so that decisions 
result which seem totally devoid of common sense and rationality. In 
these instances intellectual competence is reduced, but only because of 
factors known to be of physical or emotional origin. Brain disorder and 
emotional illness will be discussed at greater length in succeeding chap- 

The Performance Relationship 

The generalization that verbal ability is the most important aspect of 
intelligence certainly holds true with regard to ineffective performance. 
The various jobs have what amount to minimum demands in the area of 
verbal ability. If a man falls below the minimum verbal level required for 
a given job, he is very likely to be a failure in that type of work. Yet he 
may easily qualify for performance in another less intellectually demand- 
ing occupation at a lower level. 

For practical purposes the hierarchy of occupations may be broken 
into four groups or levels in accordance with the degree of verbal ability 
required for effective performance ( 12 ) . At the top are occupations such 
as accountant, industrial chemist, civil engineer, bank executive, law- 
yer, office manager, personnel manager, sales manager, treasurer, pur- 
chasing agent, and many others of a professional or managerial nature. 
These positions are held by about 12 percent of the labor force. It is ex- 
tremely improbable that work at this level can be performed by anyone 
whose verbal ability does not place him in the upper half of the working 
population. The specific lower boundary in terms of verbal ability will, 
of course, vary with the particular occupation and with the type of stand- 
ards established in a given company. Lawyers and physical scientists, 
for instance, must be in at least the top 30 percent ( 29 ) . Within one group 
of over forty successful officers of large corporations, there were no men 
whose tested verbal ability fell below the top twenty-five percent (14). 
Presumably, people of lower ability were on occasion promoted into 
these top executive positions but were unable to maintain an effective 
level of performance in competition with the more talented group they 
were in. As part of the same study, a number of distinguished professors 
in major colleges and universities were also tested. All were well into the 
upper 20 percent of the population in the verbal area. 

The second level of occupations contains largely skilled workers and 
lower-level supervisors: carpenters, clerk-typists, maintenance foremen, 
service station managers, plumbers, salesmen, timekeepers, credit investi- 
gators, surveyors, automobile mechanics, etc. This group includes about 
32 percent of the labor force. Anyone falling in the lower 25 percent on 

Intelligence and Job Knowledge 27 

verbal ability is very likely to fail if placed in a job of this type. Of course, 
because of standards established for an occupation in a certain company, 
many specific positions will require intelligence considerably above this 

The third group is semiskilled. The occupations included make up some 
38 percent of the working population. Typical jobs are: boilermaker, 
bulldozer operator, knitting machine operator, receptionist, truck driver, 
drill press operator, salesclerk, watchman, shipping clerk, mechanic's 
helper. Anyone in the upper 90 percent of the labor force should be ca- 
pable of performing eflFectively insofar as verbal intelligence is con- 
cerned. Below that level the failure rate can be expected to rise rapidly. 

The fourth and lowest group includes 18 percent of the jobs. The work 
is all unskilled: construction laborer, elevator operator, loader, janitor, 
longshoreman, butcher's helper, packer, dishwasher, mason's helper, 
bootblack, etc. This kind of position can be filled by almost anyone. The 
intellectual demands are minimal. Most unskilled jobs do not require a 
high level of literacy; a number require none at all. The only group that 
might be excluded from them would be the roughly 2 percent of the pop- 
ulation which is generally classified as feebleminded ( 28 ) . Actually, some 
at this very low level can hold unskilled jobs for a period of time; many 
more are institutionalized and thus not even potentially a part of the 
labor force. 

The extent to which verbal ability influences occupational level is 
strikingly illustrated in an extensive study of the life histories of gifted 
children (21). During the early 1920s approximately fifteen hundred 
children whose general intelligence placed them in the top 10 percent of 
the population were identified. All were in CaUfomia schools. The aver- 
age age at the time of selection for the study was eleven, and the chil- 
dren have been followed through the ensuing years. 

For our purposes the crucial data in the study are those bearing on 
occupational attainment. At the time of the 1955 follow-up, roughly 
thirty-five years after the initial testing, 80 percent of those who were 
employed were working in level 1 occupations of the professional or 
managerial type. Thus 80 percent of a group at the very highest level 
in verbal ability had jobs which are attained by only about 12 percent 
of the population. Another 18 percent of the gifted group were in level 
2 positions doing work of a skilled or supervisory nature, and only 2 per- 
cent were at level 3 in semiskilled jobs. Not one was in a level 4 position. 
Unemployment in the technical sense (available for work but not work- 
ing) was almost nonexistent, although many of the group were house- 
wives, incapacitated, etc. 

- Once the minimum verbal demands are met for a certain job, other 
factors become important in influencing the level of performance. Some 

28 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

are intellectual in nature; some are emotional, motivational, or physical. 
The discussion here will deal with the intellectual sphere and leave the 
other areas for subsequent chapters. 

The intellectual factors aside from verbal ability which are important 
in performance tend to be specific to various occupations and jobs. Nu- 
merical ability, for instance, must be at a relatively high level in occupa- 
tions such as accountant, office manager, production manager, pharma- 
cist, treasurer, and comptroller. Mechanical ability is required among 
airline pilots, contractors, electricians, mechanics, and certain types of 
engineers. Spatial ability is crucial for architects, artists, civil engineers, 
and surveyors. Moreover, verbal ability acts not only as a determinant of 
occupational level, but also is required in additional increments, and 
thus acts as a special ability of considerable importance, in occupations 
such as college professor, industrial relations specialist, lawyer, corporate 
officer, and writer. A lack of these appropriate special abilities may well 
prove to be strategic in performance failure. 

It is evident that a manager faced with the necessity of determining 
what has caused a given instance of ineffective performance must have 
some knowledge of the abilities required in the jobs which he supervises. 
The examples already noted were drawn primarily from higher-level oc- 
cupations. What about other kinds of work? 

To some extent an intimate knowledge of job duties will provide a 
picture of the abilities which are necessary. Especially if he is taking 
over the direction of a new activity, the supervisor will find that a care- 
ful perusal of job descriptions and specifications can be very helpful, 
even when statements are not specifically made in terms of intelligence 
requirements. In addition, the United States Employment Service has 
accumulated a large body of information regarding the ability require- 
ments of various occupations as a result of extensive work with the Gen- 
eral Aptitude Test Battery. Similar information is also available from 
other sources ( 4, 17, 22 ) . 

We have not yet mentioned a man's knowledge of his specific job as 
an intellectual factor in performance, but the relationship between such 
knowledge and effectiveness is almost self-evident. Responsibility for 
determining requirements in this area falls primarily on the manager 
himself. Certainly any effective manager should know what the duties of 
his various subordinates are. Without this knowledge he is likely to have 
difficulty establishing realistic standards and dealing with ineffective 
performance generally. Ideally, he would have learned about the jobs 
which he supervises through experience in identical or similar work, or 
perhaps through working closely with other individuals who have accu- 
mulated this experience. Other sources, not perhaps as good but still 

Intelligence and Job Knowledge 29 

helpful, are training manuals and job descriptions, as well as discussions 
with individual subordinates. 

The identification of intellectual factors which are strategic in ineffec- 
tive performance is not always easy. The best procedure where deter- 
minants of this type are suspected is to compare the individual's test 
scores with those obtained by men performing similar work. Does the 
man score very low relative to others on a measure of general intelligence 
or verbal ability? Does he score low on tests of special abilities known 
to be important in performance? Does he do poorly on achievement tests 
tapping the specific knowledge required? Does he fail to measure up to 
others on tests of memory functioning or judgment? 

Unfortunately, this kind of comparison based on the specific factors 
thought to be strategic is not always possible. Observation of behavior 
in situ (at work) and discussions with the man may be the only sources 
of information available. Or psychological testing may be appropriate 
only as a means of checking one hypothesis, such as the possibility of 
insuflScient verbal ability, and the testing of other hypotheses may be 
limited to whatever can be learned from conversations and observation 
of behavior. 

The usual sip^ns of difficultv in the intellectual area are an excessive 
number of mistakes and slowness in learning. People who are lacking in 
the appropriate mental ability characteristically take an unusual amount 
of time to learn new tasks. This slowness in learning the unfamiliar may 
stand in marked contrast to a considerable competence in dealing with 
material to which there has been long exposure. In wartime, men of low 
intelligence who have spent their whole lives in rural areas and performed 
there in an entirely satisfactory manner often find it impossible to adjust 
to the very different demands of the military (6). There is too much 
that is new to be comprehended and absorbed. 

The same result often occurs when men of limited abilities are faced 
with completely new industrial job demands. Difficulty is particularly 
likely if the man has moved to a different living environment at the same 
time, say from a rural area to the city. The diagnostic task is made more 
complex by the necessity of determining whether trouble at this early 
stage is due to ability lack or insufficient job knowledge. If the usual train- 
ing has been completed and adequate learning has not occurred, there is 
likely to be a deficiency in intelligence. However, if training has been 
short-circuited but there is evidence of previous intellectual accomplish- 
ment by a man, such as would be indicated by his having acquired a col- 
lege degree or having passed the tests for a military commission, it is 
probably job knowledge that is deficient. 

The problems of the manager are compounded by the fact that slow 

30 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

learning of job duties and silly mistakes are not the only manifestations 
of intellectual difficulties. A man may attempt to avoid jobs that he doe s 
not understand or that he knows he cannot handle intellectually. As a 
result he may appear to be "goofing off" or insubordinate rather than lack- 
ing in mental ability or knowledge. A comprehensive performance analy- 
sis in such instances requires that additional information be obtained 
either from the man himself or from tests. The manager should also try 
forcing compliance and observe the results, since it is important to de- 
termine what would happen if avoidance were not possible. 

In other instances men ma y appear insubordinate because they lack 
the mental ability which would permit them to grasp company rules and 
regulations rapidly. A worker may get in trouble, for instance, if he con- 
sistently disobeys safety regulations which he does not understand. Often 
in such situations the manager involved, being of considerably higher 
intelligence himself, cannot believe that "anyone could be so stupid." He 
assumes that the problem is basically of an emotional or motivational 
nature — that the man is a troublemaker. Therefore the manager fails to 
ask the direct questions which would provide information on the extent 
of actual knowledge. 

There are other ways in which intellectual deficiency relative to job 
demands may manifest itself. Faced with a situation which makes him 
feel constandy incompetent and inadequate, a man who lacks the appro - 
priate verbal ability, special ability, or job knowledge may become emo- 
tionally u pset. The experience of being continually expected to perform 
tasks which are beyond one's intellectual capacity is a very unpleasant 
one. Eventually a man's feeling of being in over his head is likely to 
take its toll. Severe emotional disorders do, on occasion, result from such 
situations. More frequently the emotional reaction is transitory. The man 
is touchy, gets mad with little provocation, or often f eels anxious and 
upset, j n any case the underlymg strategic tactor is likely to be masked 
Ty'die emotional problems, which, although they may also be strategic, 
are not the most important determinants of failure. 

Procedures for Improving Performance 

The preceding discussion has indicated several different routes through 
which intellectual factors can influence performance. The reason for dis- 
tinguishing between them will become increasingly clear as we turn to 
the matter of corrective action. There is no universal solution to difficul- 
ties arising out of the strategic factors discussed in this chapter. What will 
work with one kind of problem will not necessarily work with another. 

If verbal ability appropriate to the job level is lacking, demotion ap- 

Intelligence and Job Knowledge 31 

pears to be the best answer. Studies conducted by British psychologists 
during World War II ( 25, 26 ) established that performance in a new job 
was best predicted from a knowledge of effectiveness in very similar posi- 
tions. But where such comparisons could not be made — as where prior 
experience in similar work was lacking — a measure of general intelligence 
or verbal ability was the most valuable indicator. Furthermore, if a man 
failed in a job, shifting him to some other type of work at the same level 
frequently proved unsatisfactory. The man was very likely to fail again 
even when he had expressed interest in the new position. Demotion, on , 
the other hand, characteristically served to produce both effective per- [ 
formance and, in the long run, a happier individual. 

To shift a man to a lower position in this manner, and thereby reduce 
his salary or place a lower limit on the salary to which he may aspire, is 
not an easy task for any manager. In fact, it is probably the most difficult 
personnel action there is. Firing is usually much easier, since the man is 
quickly gone, and any guilt and remorse that the manager responsible 
may experience is thus more easily forgotten. In the case of demotion the 
man is constantly present to serve as a reminder of the unpleasantness 

For this reason many firms rarely, if ever, demote an employee, even 
when the man himself would prefer such action to remaining in his pres- 
ent position or being dismissed. On one occasion when a company psy- 
chologist recommended a very sizable reduction in grade to overcome 
the difficulties associated with overplacement, it took two years of grad- 
ual demotion and continued ineffectiveness before the man was finally 
placed in a job at a low enough level to permit him actually to contrib- 
ute to organizational goals. Those responsible for the decision could not 
bring themselves to carry out the type of drastic demotion the psycholo- 
gist had recommended. This was in spite of the fact that the man wanted 
to be demoted and would have been much happier if the action could 
have been taken all at one time. Such instances are not uncommon. 
Perhaps reducing a man in grade is more easily accomplished if one real- 
izes that there is no other practical way of salvaging him as an effective 
performer. Such is in fact the case when overplacement in verbal ability 
has occurred. 

Once it is evident that the person is appropriately placed in level, the 
various special abilities become important. If there is a deficiency in this 
respect, it may be possible to transfer the individual to another posi- 
tion at approximately the same level which is more consistent with his 
particular constellation of abilities. This should be done with knowledge, 
not on a random basis. It should be clear that the man is failing in his 
present position because he lacks the necessary spatial, mechanical, or 

32 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

numerical ability, or the verbal ability in additional increments to what 
is required for the job level. It should also be clear that he possesses the 
specific abilities which will contribute to success in the new position. 

These recommendations have been based on the assumption that men- 
tal abilities in adults are essentially static and that therefore the job must 
be adjusted to the individual rather than the individual to the job. This 
is only partially true. Intelligence level does change. If abilities go un- 
used for long periods of time and there is no opportunity for practicing 
what has been learned, some decline may occur (20). Even verbal ability, 
which might be expected to receive constant use and practice, has been 
found to diminish slightly in certain groups which have spent long periods 
in institutions for the emotionally disturbed and incapacitated (1, 15). 
Other research, which will be discussed shortly, indicates that verbal 
ability tends to rise slowly throughout the adult years in a sizable segment 
of the population. 

But these are all gradual changes. Is it possible in a relatively short 
period of time to raise an individual's abilities so that he can perform 
eflFectively in a job for which he previously lacked the appropriate intelli- 
gence? Or are there instances in which intelligence level has decreased 
markedly over a period of a few months? Allowing for the errors of 
measurement inherent in testing instruments and the conditions under 
which they must be administered, sizable short-term decreases probably 
occur only when there has been some damage to the brain. Increases, on 
the other hand, do apparently occur in certain individuals with concen- 
trated training. The optimum conditions seem to be a very low initial 
level of ability and a situation where the deficiency is clearly a function 
of limited opportunity rather than insufficient native potential. 

Experience in Army Special Training Units during World War II (5) 
indicated that men who were considered incapable of performing effec- 
tively because of illiteracy and low intelligence could frequently be 
helped through intensive training. The training attempted to raise the 
men to at least a fourth-grade intellectual level in, at the most, a four- 
month period. In one group of 400 men who were studied intensively, 86 
percent completed the training successfully and were given duty assign- 
ments. The remainder proved to be untrainable within the time allocated 
and were discharged. Evaluations at completion of service indicated that 
7 percent of the original 400 served in an outstanding manner, 24 percent 
were rated good, and 41 percent were acceptable. There is little question 
that training and short-term education did salvage many who would oth- 
erwise have failed. A more recent study (2) of a group of "unemploy- 
able" mental deficients who received five months of special vocational 
training yielded similar results. Sixty percent of those who were trained 

Intelligence and Job Knowledge 33 

were able to get and keep satisfactory jobs. Only 20 percent of a similar 
group which did not receive such training achieved the same status. 

Thus intensive training can raise many people with marked deficiencies 
in mental ability to at least a satisfactory level. Probably similar, although 
not as spectacular, changes could be attained with those whose intelli- 
gence is initially at a higher level. In actuality, however, such increases 
in ability appear to be very rare. Among working adults opportunities 
and motivation for extensive, concentrated new learning are at a mini- 
mum. If a man is holding a job of any kind, he cannot devote the same 
amount of time and effort to learning as he did in earlier years as a stu- 

The implication is that companies probably could bring about changes 
in the mental abilities of ineffective employees if they were willing to 
assume a sizable cost in terms of lost work time and training charges. 
Under normal circumstances, however, demoting or transferring the 
men and replacing them with qualified workers is probably more likely 
to produce an effective performance level while keeping costs to a fraction 
of what they would be with a special training program. This is only true, 
of course, when replacements with appropriate abilities are available. In 
other instances, as when a company is operating in one of the under- 
developed countries and must rely on the local populace for manpower, 
an investment in extensive educational programs designed to raise intelli- 
gence levels may be the only possible solution. But most companies in the 
United States cannot afford to move strongly into the field of general 
education, as the Army did in wartime, and still maintain a competitive 
position in their industry. In our social system the responsibility for 
educational development is allocated primarily to the individual and to 
the society as a whole, not to the business segment. 

This is not the case, however, in the area of job knowledge. Charac- 
teristically, companies must furnish any training that is unique to the 
particular firm or industry, largely because society is generally unwilling 
to do so. In times of occupational shortages a firm may have to move into 
more general occupational and professional training also, in order to com- 
pete for personnel. Certainly where performance failure is attributable 
to a lack of specific knowledge, the appropriate solution is some type of 
training or education. Whether this will be provided within the com- 
pany, outside the company but at company expense, or entirely through 
outside resources depends on many factors — the availability of training, 
the length of training, employee interests, etc. When the employee has 
no desire to increase his knowledge of a job, or when training is not 
feasible because of insufficient facilities or excessive duration, it may be 
necessary to transfer rather than train him. 

34 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

In summary, performance is most likely to be improved by demotio n 
when there is a lack of verbal ability, by transfer at the same level when 
job-related special abilities are insufficient, and by training when inade - 
quate job knowledge is strategic . However, when deficiencies in memory 
or judgment are caused by brain disorder or emotional illness, the intellec- 
tual problems can be handled only by taking some action with regard 
to the underlying physical or emotional factors. These problems will be 
treated in subsequent chapters. 

Intelligence in the United States 

It is evident that diflFerentiating between the various possible strategic 
factors of an intellectual nature is both important and difficult, especially 
when adequate test data are lacking for an ineflFective employee. Infor- 
mation on the distribution of mental ability in the population can there- 
fore be of value to a manager in formulating hypotheses. If he knows the 
general intellectual level in groups of which the employee is a member, 
he may be able to make an initial guess about the role of mental ability 
in the failure. He may also be able to eliminate certain possibilities as ex- 
tremely unlikely. 

The figures which form the basis for this discussion were obtained 
from a short verbal-ability test administered to a cross section of the 
United States population over nine years of age (12). The testing was 
done by Gallup Poll interviewers on a door-to-door basis. The test, al- 
though it contains only twenty questions, appears to be a relatively good 
index of general intelligence (13). Although comprehensive information 
on abilities other than verbal ability is not available, it seems probable 
from knowledge of the relationship between abilities in the population 
and from smaller-scale studies (8) that when large diflFerences in verbal 
ability appear between groups, similar, although perhaps less striking, 
dijfferences will also appear in other areas such as the numerical and 
mechanical. Where the verbal differences between groups are relatively 
small, this assumption will not necessarily hold. 

The findings regarding education are among the most impressive. Aver- 
age scores rise steadily with successively higher levels of attainment. Peo- 
ple with no schooHng have 7 questions right, on the average. A score of 
13 or more would be very unusual indeed for a person who had not at- 
tended school. Yet the average person who has graduated from college 
has a score of almost 15. Only about 5 percent of the people whose educa- 
tion stopped during or immediately after grade school develop verbal 
ability equal to that which is normal for college graduates. 

The differences between the various occupational groups are almost 

Intelligence and Job Knowledge 35 

as pronounced. In the four levels of the occupational hierarchy, there is 
a rise from 9 questions right among the unskilled workers at level 4 to al- 
most 15 right among the managerial and professional workers at level 1. 
Practically none of those in unskilled jobs possesses verbal ability equal 
to the average for the top occupational level. 

Negro-white comparisons are consistent with the lower educational 
and occupational status of the Negro group as a whole. The average 
scores are 8 and 11. Only a very small proportion of Negroes possess ver- 
bal ability above the level of the average college graduate. These observed 
differences do not, of course, directly reflect underlying differences in 
native potential. Environmental stimulus potential, including education, 
is markedly reduced in Negro groups. Some recent research has also 
shown that certain personality characteristics of a kind that almost cer- 
tainly restrict motivation to learn, interact sharply with intelligence level 
among Negroes ( 18 ) . Presumably these personality characteristics are in 
turn produced by the deprived environments in which many Negroes live. 
In any event it seems evident that a much greater motivation to learn is a 
major factor in the higher average intelligence of whites. Whether or not 
racial differences in native potential remain after these other factors are 
accounted for is still an open question. At best, the differences in native 
potential must be very small. Considerable research evidence indicates 
that there is a great deal of room for the development of existing poten- 
tial in the Negro group — that a sizable amount of learning can occur un- 
der appropriate conditions of environment and motivation. The extremely 
high test scores obtained by certain individual Negroes provide striking 
evidence of what can be accomplished. 

The sexes scored at approximately the same level on verbal ability in 
the national survey. Evidence from other sources based on different tests 
suggests, however, that women may well be slightly superior (28). In any 
event, the difference appears to be negligible and of little practical signifi- 
cance. This is not the case, however, in the numerical area. Men in our 
society develop a considerably higher level of numerical competence than 
do women. 

When rural areas and the cities are compared, some slight superiority 
of the urban areas does emerge. However, generalizations regarding rural- 
urban differences have little practical value. There are apparently areas 
where the population resides exclusively on farms or in small towns 
which have a rather high average level of verbal ability, and there are 
many cities where the average is low. The crucial considerations appear 
to be opportunity and migration (7). Where economic opportunity is 
limited, some skimming off of the higher intelligence levels is likely to 
occur as people seek a chance to prosper elsewhere. Although this pattern 

36 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

of migration tends, generally, to be from rural to urban areas, it may be 
from city to city. There are certainly many prosperous farm areas where 
no such loss of high-intelligence people occurs. 

Geographical difiFerences between the various regions of the country 
are more pronounced. The Deep South (South Carolina, Georgia, Ala- 
bama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas) is low, with an average 
score somewhat below 10. The West Central region (Wisconsin, Minne- 
sota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kan- 
sas) scores only slightly higher. At the other extreme is the Pacific Coast 
(California, Oregon, and Washington) where the average is just under 
12. The other areas are between these extremes; the averages for New 
England, the Middle Atlantic states, the East Central area, the Border 
South, and the Rocky Mountain states are all very similar. 

Religion appears to be a diflFerentiating factor in only one respect: 
The Jewish group with a score just under 13 is clearly superior to the 
rest of the population, which averages somewhat less than 11. This supe- 
riority is reflected in the generally higher educational and occupational 
attainment of the Jews. Again the question of racial differences in native 
potential may be raised with reference to a minority group. But in this 
comparison, unlike that of Negroes and whites, it is the minority group 
which would be better endowed. It is conceivable that such a difference 
in native potential does, in fact, exist, but if this is the case, the difference 
is likely to be small. Jewish culture places strong emphasis on education 
and learning, and professional occupations are highly valued. As a result, 
a strong motivation to learn is implanted in most Jewish children at an 
early age. This in and of itself may well be sufficient to account for the 
differences noted. 

Verbal ability is also related to age, although in a rather complex man- 
ner. The scores rise steadily in the successive young age groups, reach- 
ing an average of 9 in the early teens. By the early twenties the rate of in- 
crease begins to slow, but there is nevertheless some rise to about the age 
of forty, where the average score is over 11.5. After that, each successively 
older age group has lower scores. People over seventy-five are at approxi- 
mately the same average level as the fifteen-year-olds. Other abilities 
appear to follow essentially the same pattern, although they generally 
reach their peak at an earlier age than verbal ability does. For most pur- 
poses associated with work performance and managerial decision making, 
this information on the relative positions of various age groups in the pop- 
ulation is the most important. Older workers and the very young are likely 
to be the least intelligent. 

There is good reason to believe, however, that this similarity between 
the two extreme age groups cannot be attributed primarily to some proc- 
ess of deterioration which occurs in people of more advanced age. The 

Intelligence and Job Knowledge 37 

intelligence of each individual does not rise to about age forty and then 
decline. The younger groups are less intelligent because they are still in a 
period of education and learning; development is still progressing rapidly. 
The older people are less intelligent because they terminated their edu- 
cation at a considerably lower point than people now in middle age. 
The older groups have not declined from a previously higher level of 
intelligence; they have characteristically never been above their present 
level. The average educational attainment, as noted previously, has been 
rising steadily in the United States for many years. In 1953, when the 
study of verbal ability in the population was conducted, only slightly 
over 30 percent of the people aged fifty-five and up had more than an 
eighth-grade education. At the same time almost 70 percent of those in 
the peak intelligence group, the thirty-five to forty-five category, had gone 
beyond the eighth grade. These educational differences are sufficient to 
account for the lower scores in the older groups. 

It appears that, at least among those of above-average intelligence ( this 
would include most people in our occupational levels 1 and 2), verbal 
ability actually rises throughout life (12). There may be a slight de- 
cline in some people during the late seventies and eighties, but in gen- 
eral, learning apparently continues and intelligence develops throughout 
most of our lives. The rate of increase is, however, relatively slow in later 

This rise in intelligence with increased learning and experience has 
been demonstrated in a number of studies. The gifted group originally 
tested while attending school in California has been retested twice since 
( 21 ) , and there is clear evidence of a steady rise in mental ability. In an- 
other study a group of people originally tested on admission to college 
were traced and retested thirty-one years later. Verbal ability showed 
considerable improvement, but numerical ability remained at approxi- 
mately the same level ( 16 ) . 

These studies did not deal with changes occurring after about the age 
of fifty-five. A study which did include the older group compared the 
verbal ability of beginning teachers (average age twenty-two), teachers 
(average age forty-six), and retired teachers (average age sixty-seven). 
The three groups were almost identical in educational level, yet test 
scores increased steadily with age ( 3 ) . 

There are, then, marked differences in the level of intelligence charac- 
teristic of various groups. A knowledge of these differences can be very 
helpful to the manager who must undertake a performance analysis. Per- 
formance failure due to deficiencies in mental ability would be very un- 
likely in a Jewish college graduate of mature years who was employed in 
an executive position and lived in a prosperous suburban area near a 
large city on the West Coast. Such a person would almost certainly be 

38 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

above the minimum acceptable level on verbal ability for any occupation. 
He would probably be equally proficient in any special abilities required 
for his work. He might, however, be inadequately trained and thus lack- 
ing in job knowledge. The possession of mental ability does not guaran- 
tee that it will have been used to accumulate a specific type of informa- 

On the other hand, a young man in his late teens, perhaps a Negro, with 
only a few grades of schooling, and living on a poor farm in the Deep 
South would present a very different set of probabilities. Should such a 
person prove to be ineflFective when placed in a position above the un- 
skilled level, there would be good reason to believe that verbal ability 
and the requisite special abilities, as well as appropriate job knowledge, 
are strategic. 


It has been common practice to consider the characteristic 
emotional and motivational patterns exhibited by human beings as as- 
pects of personality. Many people, in fact, speak of personality traits with- 
out diflFerentiating between those of a primarily emotional nature, such 
as chronic pessimism, aggressiveness, and nervousness , and those that 
are basically motivationa l, such as dominance, conformity, and dedica- 
tion to work. The reason for making the distinction here and treating emo- 
tions in a separate chapter from motivation is purely practical. The use 
of the single concept, personality, would mask diflFerences of considerable 
practical importance insofar as managerial action to improve performance 
is concerned. 

Since we are interested specifically in those emotions which may be 
strategic for ine£Fective performance, the emphasis must be on feelings of 
a less pleasant nature — anxiety and fear, shame and guilt, grief and de- 
pression. There will also be some mention of anger, hatred, jealousy, and 
extreme excitement. The nature of the objective precludes anything but 
the most superficial reference to the positive emotions — love, happiness, 
joy, and the like. Much of the discussion will be devoted to emotional ill- 
ness, because it is primarily, although not exclusively, through this route 
that emotions influence job performance. 

The first part of the chapter will deal entirely with emotional disturb- 
ance or illness, drawing on the fields of clinical psychology and psychiatry 
to provide some understanding of these disorders. Because managers are 
frequently called upon to make decisions in this area, considerable space 
will be devoted to the problem of identification and to the description and 
analysis of symptoms. The next section will delineate how emotions in 
healthy persons and emotions in their pathological manifestations may 
interfere with work performance. The various methods of improving per- 
formance and of therapy will then be taken up. A special section w^ill be 


40 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

devoted to alcoholism, an area of major significance for industrial manage- 
ment. Finally, as in the preceding chapter, relationships and differences 
existing among various groups will be discussed. 

Some readers may be concerned about the propriety of including such 
a lengthy discussion of topics generally considered of interest to clinical 
psychologists, and psychiatrists only. A number may feel that the diag- 
nosis and treatment of emotional disorder should be specifically reserved 
to the professionally qualified and that, therefore, even limited informa- 
tion should not be provided to those without specific training in the area. 
The old saw "A little knowledge is a bad thing" is often quoted in this 

This position is without question valid insofar as the detailed diagnosis 
and treatment of severe emotional disorders are concerned. These are 
tasks which should be reserved to those with professional training. It is 
also true that some people with a limited knowledge of abnormal psychol- 
ogy have said and done things which have had negative consequences 
for the emotional adjustment of others. But a manager needs some knowl- 
edge in this area to perform effectively. And the judicious application of 
such knowledge can be of sizable benefit to the man as well as the com- 
pany. In the presentation of this material, however, every effort will be 
made to provide guidelines which should serve to minimize the possibility 
of inappropriate application. 

The Nature of Emotional Disorder 

It is important to note at the outset the relationship between our term 
emotional disorder and the more widely used mental disorder. We hear 
much of mental disease, mental hospitals, mental treatment. In a general 
sense the two terms refer to the same thing. Mental disorder, however, 
has a somewhat broader connotation. It includes intellectual deficiency 
and disorders involving specific brain damage as well as conditions di- 
rectly attributable to emotional problems. Since it is only the latter that 
will concern us here, the more specific term emotional disorder is appro- 

The borderline between emotional health and illness is difficult to 
establish. Basically, emotional disorder is defined in terms of symptoms, 
but the relationship is not a simple one. Certain types of emotional re- 
sponses, behaviors, ideas, perceptions, motives, and physical conditions 
are considered indicative of illness. Yet the specific designation of a symp- 
tom varies from society to society, and even on occasion among groups 
within a single society. There is a degree of cultural relativism involved. 
The Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia and other tribes of the Pacific 
Northwest, for instance, engage in grandiose activities on a regular, ritual- 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 41 

ized basis which according to our standards would be considered sympto- 
matic of severe emotional disturbance ( 32 ) . Another example is provided 
by a man who, even though discharged from the military service as in- 
sane, was able to assume a position as a minister shortly after returning 
to his hometown in the rural Southeast. He retained that position and 
was treated as an honored member of his community in spite of the fact 
that for some time he continued to exhibit the same symptoms that had 
brought about his discharge. In fact, it was largely because of these "symp- 
toms" that he was selected for his job by the congregation ( 38 ) . 

Clearly, there is no single, all-inclusive definition of emotional illness 
based on the classification of symptoms alone, even though many such 
definitions have been proposed. Almost invariably these definitions em- 
phasize one group of symptoms at the expense of others (42). Consist- 
ency and severity of manifestation must also be taken into account, and 
perhaps other factors would be included in an ideal definition as well. 
Certainly, symptoms which are not persistently in evidence cannot be 
considered indicative of a true disorder; neither can those which have lit- 
tle impact on the individual's pattern of life. An occasional manifestation 
of what appears for the moment to be emotional illness may occur in 
anyone. Many people generally considered relatively stable are not en- 
tirely free of symptoms, and some suffer from a rather large number. The 
presence of symptoms alone is not sufficient to warrant a diagnosis of emo- 
tional illness. 

If we observe people who are considered emotionally disturbed, how- 
ever, one factor appears to be consistently present. There is a lack of flex- 
ibility, a rigidity, which makes it impossible for these people to adapt to 
the demands of the world around them (44). The individual not only 
possesses certain symptoms, but the symptoms appear to take over and 
exercise almost absolute control. They disrupt the ongoing process of life 
and impose new patterns irrespective of what might otherwise be the per- 
son's wishes. These new patterns possess a compulsive inflexibility; they 
do not change with changes in the existing, real world. 

This disruption of the ongoing processes of existence may occur in one 
or more of a number of areas — work, love and family life, social rela- 
tionships generally, recreation and enjoyment of leisure, responses to legal 
controls. Although from a managerial viewpoint the disruption in work 
is the most significant, it is important to note that symptoms frequently 
spread from one area of life to another, and that events in a nonwork area 
may subsequently have consequences for the employment relationship. 

At least one unique characteristic which may serve to define emotional 
disorder, then, is the presence of symptoms which disrupt the ongoing 
process of life in the manner described. People whose symptoms are not 
disruptive in this manner are not normally considered emotionally ill. 

42 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

They may retain sufiBcient flexibility to permit them to continue their nor- 
mal life patterns with minimal change and to adapt to varying circum- 
stances as they occur. Although such people are not characteristically 
diagnosed as emotionally disturbed, they may gain very little happiness 
from life. Similarly, people may possess symptoms which are so attuned 
to the demands of their existing situation that no disruption occurs. The 
minister in the Southern farm community presumably maintained what 
was considered an adequate adjustment because his symptoms fitted the 
expectations of his parishioners. Unfortunately, such people lack the flex- 
ibility necessary to adapt to changing circumstances. Should their worlds 
change, their symptoms will almost certainly make it impossible to adjust 
to the new circumstances in the same way that the minister was unable 
to adjust to military demands. 

What kinds of symptoms are likely to be indicative of emotional prob- 
lems? The list is a long one. Yet the manager must be able to determine 
when he is dealing with an emotional disorder in a subordinate, and a 
knowledge of symptoms will help him acquire a sensitivity to the exist- 
ence of problems in this area. The list which follows is based on a study 
of over seventy people suffering from a great many different kinds of dis- 
turbances. It does not include every possible manifestation of emotional 
illness, but it is sufficiently comprehensive to provide a working knowl- 
edge in the area. 

One type of symptom involves the persistent and intense experiencing 
of certain emotions — anxiety, fear, panic, depression, grief, guilt, shame, 
worry, anger, jealousy, belligerence. At such times people may describe 
themselves as upset, nervous, tense, or irritable. They may have a feeling 
of "going all to pieces." They may experience an intense yearning for the 
presence of certain other people, such as a parent or spouse. Fears can 
refer to almost any type of catastrophe — death, injury, illness, going crazy, 
being considered a homosexual, losing control of one's bodily functions, 
etc. The emotion may be precipitated by many different kinds of situa- 
tions or by the thought of being in such a situation. Flying in an airplane, 
loud noises, darkness when alone, high places, being in the water, closed 
and stuffy rooms, school examinations, being criticized or reprimanded, 
crowded places, traveling in buses or trains, and being ordered to do 
something are perhaps typical. 

Since emotional experiences of this type are likely to be extremely un- 
pleasant, we characteristically develop various techniques to protect our- 
selves from being exposed to them. We bring forth defenses which are 
successful to varying degrees in warding off emotional experiences. These 
defenses act to insulate us from situations which might arouse intensely 
unpleasant emotions (36). Symptoms may reflect this attempt to avoid 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 43 

feelings, or they may involve a direct manifestation of emotion. Most fre- 
quently there is a combination of the two. 

In direct manifestation, emotions are expressed not only in the realm of 
conscious awareness, but also through certain types of behavior and 
through physiological changes. All these types of expression can serve as 
avenues for the manifestation of symptoms. In attempting to ward off or 
defend against emotions, people may resort to an even more diverse array 
of symptoms — physical disorders and sensations; all kinds of behaviors; 
certain types of ideas, perceptions and distortions of intellectual proc- 
esses. The following paragraphs will treat these in detail. 

Physical disorders and conditions which may arise as a result of emo- 
tional problems include: headaches; nausea and vomiting, especially after 
meals; feelings of pervasive physical weakness, often combined with dizzi- 
ness or fainting; constant fatigue, to the point where getting out of bed 
in the morning becomes extremely difficult; constipation and diarrhea, 
frequently alternating; inability to speak, or speech defects such as stut- 
tering; paralysis of various parts of the body; various skin rashes, espe- 
cially on the face and hands; profuse sweating, most frequently of the 
palms; hand and body tremors and trembling, occasionally combined 
with more specific uncontrolled jerking movements involving muscles of 
the face or body; rapid breathing or difficulty in breathing, often with 
pounding of the heart; stomach pains or cramps, sometimes with ulcer 
formation; sudden loss of weight; aches and pains in various parts of the 
body, mainly the lower back and legs; frequent motion sickness; blur- 
ring, and on occasion loss, of vision; numbness of certain parts of the 
body. All these symptoms may, of course, be produced by factors other 
than those of an emotional nature. In addition, there are a variety of be- 
liefs and feelings, some of them quite bizarre, which, although they con- 
cern the body and physical functioning, are probably more appropriately 
considered as symptoms of a perceptual or intellective nature. These will 
be discussed shortly. 

Another group of symptoms involves behavior directly, or to be more 
precise, the motivation which precedes and determines behavior. People 
engage in certain activities and fail to engage in others either as a direct 
expression of emotion or in an effort to avoid certain emotional experi- 
ences. To the extent that these responses have become to some degree 
inflexible, they may be considered potentially indicative of emotional ill- 
ness. Examples are: attempting suicide; frequent bed- wetting; excessive 
drinking; sleepwalking; excessive use of drugs; outbreaks of uncontrolled 
rage involving homicidal attacks or the breaking of objects such as furni- 
ture; exposing the genitals in public; restlessness and agitation, such as is 
manifested by constant pacing or movement of the arms; rape; banging 

44 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

the head against a wall; excessive accidental injuries; washing part or all 
of the body at regular and very frequent intervals; shrinking away from 
people; standing woodenly in one place or position; writing threatening 
letters to people in high places; sulking and brooding; peculiar and child- 
ish behavior such as writing on walls or smearing feces; compulsive theft. 

In addition, there are behavioral symptoms which involve an inability 
or refusal to do certain things, such as engage in social activities, bathe, 
leave home or a bed, go to sleep without long hours of wakefulness, eat or 
drink, engage in sexual activity, read or write, sit down in a chair, control 
bodily functions, dress properly. On occasion apathy, listlessness, and 
indifference may become so pronounced as to produce an almost total 
lack of responsiveness. The individual appears completely preoccupied 
and withdrawn from the world or becomes comatose. 

Finally, there are behavioral symptoms which have to do with the man- 
ner of speaking or communicating: talking to oneself; crying and sobbing; 
frequent threats of suicide or homicide; inappropriate smiling and smirk- 
ing which sometimes develops into senseless laughter; excessively rapid 
speech which continues without interruption for long periods of time; 
wild and inappropriate yelling; incoherent muttering, occasionally com- 
bined with drooling; shouting or screaming during sleep; constant be- 
moaning of one's lot or protestation of guilt; continued and senseless ly- 
ing, frequently with a view to self-aggrandizement; confused and inco- 
herent speech, often involving references to religious topics, members of 
the family, or death. 

This section has dealt with symptoms of a physical nature and those 
involving behavior and its motivation. A third grouping covers symptoms 
of thought, perception, and belief, some of which were mentioned 
briefly in the preceding chapter. Either emotions distort intellectual proc- 
esses so that intelligence is not fully utilized, or distorted thought proc- 
esses serve to defend against the experiencing of disturbing emotion. In 
many instances there is a complete failure of intellectual functioning: 
inability to concentrate or pay attention; inability to think through prob- 
lems to any solution; failure of memory, either of recent events or of per- 
sonally important events of the past; elimination from awareness of 
thoughts, wishes, and events which might produce unpleasant emotional 
experiences; inability to reach a decision between alternatives. Or the 
symptoms may involve certain ideas or beliefs which lack foundation in 
fact. The degree of conviction may vary from a mere notion that such a 
thing might happen to absolute certainty that it has already occurred. 
Such ideas may refer to many things, such as: having a tight belt around 
one's chest, feeling something crawling over one's flesh, receiving a visita- 
tion from God, being constantly watched by other people, living in a 
strange and unreal world, having a venereal disease, being talked about 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 45 

and made fun of behind one's back, having no body, being already dead, 
having one's body gradually rot av^ay, having some individual or group 
such as the FBI or "the Communists" try to bring about one's death, being 
taken advantage of and abused by others, having a devil inside which 
propels one's actions, being controlled by some mysterious external force, 
being totally invisible, having committed some terrible crime, being cov- 
ered with an evil-smelling liquid, being an unrecognized genius, knowing 
that the continents are being gradually inundated by the oceans, being a 
famous person, or being God. Such beliefs may be coupled with con- 
stant suspiciousness, confused thinking, placing the blame for one's own 
shortcomings and failures on others, nightmares, and periods of delirium. 
There may also be distortions of perception, as, for instance, hearing 
voices shouting and cursing, seeing people or objects in the dark, being 
visited by a loved one who has died, hearing someone try to seduce one 
into homosexual activities, etc. 

In all these instances it is assumed that the perception or belief lacks 
foundation in fact. The manager who suspects the existence of an emo- 
tional disorder would do well to check on this before jumping to conclu- 
sions, however. A man from the hill country of the "Hatfields and Mc- 
Coys" was hospitalized because of his repeated contention that some- 
one shot at him every time he used the toilet. Belated investigation 
revealed that the outhouse near his home had in fact been under fire for 
some time. 

It is evident that many emotional symptoms, even some of the most 
bizarre beliefs and behaviors, may not manifest themselves in the presence 
of the man's superiors at work. Many are of a kind which would be very 
unlikely to attract attention unless the man were to mention them spe- 
cifically. It is for these reasons that emotional disturbances may go un- 
detected for long periods of time even when work performance itself 
is totally unsatisfactory. The writer remembers with some chagrin two 
occasions when he failed to note severe emotional symptoms in secretaries 
doing work for him. In both instances the nature of the difficulties did not 
become apparent until the young women asked for help in obtaining 
treatment. A person may be severely upset inside and give very little evi- 
dence of it. A lengthy conversation should, however, produce some hints 
regarding symptoms in most severe cases. 

The idea that symptoms may act to ward oflF unpleasant emotions, or 
more specifically, to ward off the impulses and thoughts which have the 
potential for arousing such emotions, is important for an adequate un- 
derstanding of emotional disturbances. The role of physical symptoms in 
this regard will be discussed when the whole matter of physical illness is 
taken up, in Chapter 5. Similarly, many aspects of the relationship be- 
tween emotions and the motivation of behavior will be included in Chap- 

46 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ter 4, which deals with individual motivation. The discussion here will, 
however, elaborate on the nature of intellective defenses. It is in this area 
that the role of defenses in warding off emotions, particularly anxiety, 
has been most fully developed. 

The basic nature of this self-protective proces s may be illustrated 
through a discussion of two primary defense.^ (56). The first involves a 
denial that some aspect of the world outside oneself is threatening. The 
person fails to see or hear something or someone that would precipitate 
anxiety and fear. Or he so distorts his perceptions and thought that the 
threat is somehow removed. A man leaves on a business trip the day he is 
scheduled to discuss the results of his management appraisal evaluation 
with his boss — or he skips over the section on traits of personality and 
character when asked to read the evaluation. In more extreme cases, day- 
dreams and imagined voices or images may be called upon to blot out 
the threat from the outside world. Loved ones who have recently died 
may be restored to life. Personal criticism from others may be replaced 
by hallucinated adoration. The overpowering terror that achieves its 
major impact because it seems to have no cause may be reduced by super- 
imposing some kind of explanation on the real world. This explanation 
can vary from the threat of world destruction to persecution at the hands 
of some sadistic agent of the Gestapo. 

The second primary defense is essentially the same process turned in- 
ward. MemoriesjiLtliieat or impulses within a person that are believed to 
be bad are eliminated from awareness. That which might, if actually 
experienced, provoke anxiety or some other disturbing emotion is re- 
pressed so that it never becomes conscious at all. This mechanism has 
been reproduced experimentally in an interesting way (34). Students 
were placed in a complex apparatus with some similarity to an electric 
chair. They were then read a list of words and asked to say whatever 
came to mind in response to each word. In conjunction with one of these 
words, barn, they received an electric shock. Barn, with its concomitant 
shock, appeared several times in the list. The next day the students re- 
turned for what they thought was a similar session and were asked to re- 
call the words in the list. They characteristically recalled words which 
had no connection with barn — those which had neither preceded nor fol- 
lowed it and those which had no possible rural connotations. Thus, they 
eliminated from memory the answers which might have had any relation 
to the unpleasant shock. Once removed from the apparatus and convinced 
that they were safe from further threat, however, the students had no dif- 
ficulty in remembering the words. The repressed answers reemerged 
under these more benign conditions. 

These two basic defenses will be referred to many times in later discus- 
sions. One or the other appears to operate in conjunction with nearly 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 47 

every symptom, and for this reason both are major contributors to per- 
formance failure. At this point, however, the discussion will move to an- 
other question: What are the factors leading to the development of symp- 
toms and emotional breakdowns? What aspects of an individual and his 
environment coalesce to produce such severe and inflexible symptoms 
that the ongoing process of life is disrupted? 

One determinant is the number of situations which arouse fear or anx- 
iety or other severely disturbing emotions — the number of situations 
which are seen as directly threatening or which stir up potentially dis- 
turbing thoughts and impulses within the individual. It is evident that 
different people tend to be emotionally reactive to different kinds of situa- 
tions. Just how these specific sensitivities are developed has not been 
definitely established, but the fact of their existence is clear. The greater 
the number of such personally stressful situations, the more likely it is 
that a person will be exposed at some point to a potentially disturbing 
environment. The range of these specific sensitivities within an individual 
may be very limited, as is presumably the case in most people we would 
consider truly emotionally stable. But it may also be very large, to the 
point where anxiety is an almost constant concomitant of waking experi- 
ence in practically every environmental milieu. 

Given the number of stressful situations that exist, a second factor is 
the frequency or duration of actual exposure — or the number of times a 
person feels that exposure is imminent. Of course, if an individual can 
avoid that which is disturbing without seriously disrupting the course of 
his life, he may minimize the probability of emotional breakdown. Or it 
may be that in the normal course of events he does not have to expose 
himself to his particular problem situations for any sizable period of time. 
A person may be excessively sensitive to hospitals with their aura of sick- 
ness, injury, and death. Consequently he may, with full knowledge of 
these feelings, decide at an early age that a career in medicine is not for 
him. Or he may have been offered so many inducements to enter the 
business world that alternative courses, such as a career in medicine with 
its potential for emotional disorder, may never have been a matter of con- 
cern at all. In instances such as these, failure to enter a hospital could not 
be taken as indicative of emotional illness. However, if he should require 
hospitalization for a physical illness and continually either refuse treat- 
ment or otherwise defend against being exposed to the hospital environ- 
ment, his adjustment could not be considered satisfactory. The same 
would be true if he were to enter the hospital and subsequently develop 
symptoms which interfered with the normal processes of treatment and 

Another factor is the intensity of the emotional experience aroused by 
the situation. If the intensity is minimal, then frequent exposure for long 

48 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

periods may not actually be debilitating. On the other hand, a single ex- 
tremely intense emotional experience, such as the death of a loved one or 
some act of unaccustomed personal violence, may be sufficient to set off a 
lengthy period of illness. The factor of intensity must, however, be evalu- 
ated in conjunction with the individual's capacity to withstand unpleasant 
emotion. Some people can handle considerable anxiety without resorting 
to defensive maneuver or allowing the emotion to disrupt normal 
behavior. Others seem to be affected almost immediately and react in 
drastic ways to the sUghtest tinge of fear. What produces these differences 
we do not know. 

A Classification of Emotional Disorders 

No effort will be made to provide the reader with an extensive review of 
current thinking on the various types of emotional illness. For one reason, 
there is no such thing as a consensus in this area. Furthermore, the com- 
plex classification systems that have been developed are intended to serve 
clinical purposes and can contribute little to the manager's understanding 
of ineffective performance. Those who wish a more detailed presentation 
of the approaches developed in clinical psychology and psychiatry will 
find it in appropriate textbooks (41, 49) and in the official American 
Psychiatric Association publication on the subject ( 30 ) . 

The most important distinction for our purposes is that between the 
psychoses and neuroses, because the two affect performance differently 
and are responsive to different types of treatment. In one sense this is a 
matter of severity. In psychosis, the person is so bound up in his emotions 
and the process of defending against them that responsiveness to the de- 
mands of the outside world becomes minimal or is totally lost. Emotion is 
experienced with overpowering intensity, and equally drastic defensive 
processes are mobilized. These defenses characteristically manifest them- 
selves through behavior (or speech) or through perceptions and beliefs. 
That is, although physical symptoms precipitated by emotion may exist 
in psychosis, they are not sufficient alone to define the disorder. Distorted 
ideas or perceptions are, however, always present, and the degree of com- 
mitment to them is likely to be strong. Interpretations which are inconsist- 
ent with reality are not regarded by the person simply as possibilities. 
They are beliefs, held with absolute conviction. The individual moves to 
a state of certainty without any attempt to check on the validity of what 
were mere hypotheses only moments before. The defenses become to- 
tally inflexible. As a result, these distorted thoughts and perceptions may 
on occasion manifest themselves in very bizarre behavior and speech. 

It is this loss of contact with the realities of the world outside the person 
which distinguishes psychosis from neurosis. In neurosis, a term which 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 49 

we will use to cover all remaining emotional disorders, this break with 
reality does not occur; the individual does not lose himself entirely to the 
processes of emotion and defense. Instead, he adopts methods for ward- 
ing off emotion which are generally consistent with the demands of social 
convention and the need for survival. This conception of the factors dis- 
tinguishing psychosis and neurosis receives support from a study of the 
personality characteristics of over four hundred patients under treatment 
for psychosis in a number of hospitals throughout the United States and 
of over two hundred under treatment for neurosis (54). Two features 
appeared with unusual frequency in all the various types of psychotic 
groups studied, but rarely in any of the neurotic groups: a marked tend- 
ency to perceptual deviance and distortion, which seemed to derive from 
an excessive use of denial as a defense against anxiety; and a preoccupa- 
tion with the matter of personal physical harm, to the point where fears of 
bodily mutilation and disease could be presumed to reach an extremely 
high intensity. 

In addition to their classification as neuroses or psychoses, emotional 
disorders may be differentiated by their predominant emotion or emo- 
tions. Intense anxiety or fear is probably most frequent. Depression (often 
combined with guilt) is somewhat less common. Instances where anger 
or extreme excitement predominates are relatively infrequent, although 
they do occur. In some cases there is a shift from one predominant emo- 
tion to another as the disorder progresses. 

This dual classification of emotional disorders in terms of neurosis and 
psychosis, with their different orientations to reality, and in terms of char- 
acteristic emotions is perhaps best illustrated by concrete examples. In ad- 
dition, examples will serve to demonstrate how the various symptom 
types — emotional, physical, behavioral, and intellectual — actually appear 
in context. The cases which follow are from the book Breakdown and 

P.W.A. was a member of a socially prominent family residing in 
an Eastern city. His father was a successful lawyer and both 
sons studied for the bar. P.W.A. attended local schools and gradu- 
ated from a college near his home. Although not an outstanding 
student he did well and was active in social affairs; he was a 
member of the golf team as well as a frequent speaker at student 
gatherings. After completing college in 1942 he entered law 
school while working part-time in his father's office. During this 
period, as before, he was frequently in conflict with his father. 
The latter was prone to occasional alcoholic bouts and on several 
occasions the son had to go out and "round up" his father. Other 
than this, the family life seems to have been normal and P.W.A. 
gave no evidence of emotional disturbance. 

50 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

In the summer of 1942, however, he had a disturbing experience 
in connection with some Civil Aeronautics Authority pilot train- 
ing. Prior to graduation from college he became interested in 
flying and attempted to enlist in the Naval Air Corps. Rejected 
for physical defects, he was later accepted as a member of the 
Army Air Corps Reserve with the provision that he would be 
called to active duty for pilot training as soon as needed. Wishing 
to get some prior experience, he entered the Civilian Aeronautics 
Authority Training Program during the summer. From the be- 
ginning of the course he was a complete failure as an aviator; he 
lacked coordination but this was attributed to the fact that he 
was frightened all the time he was in the air. After about eighteen 
hours of flying it was quite apparent that he would "wash out." 
Before this happened, however, he himself decided he would 
never make a flyer and resigned from the program. At this time 
he was emotionally disturbed, realizing he was terribly afraid of 
flying, but at the same time not wishing to admit his failure. 

Several months later he became an Air Cadet. Wishing to try 
once more to overcome his fear and thus convince himself and 
others that he was not a "sissy," he did not mention his prior 
failure. Air Corps selection procedures at that time did not in- 
clude techniques that would reveal a fear of flying. He found 
even the initial instruction difficult and was rather relieved when 
after three weeks he entered the hospital with pneumonia. During 
the next two weeks he improved rapidly and was apparently 
emotionally normal, although he talked almost incessantly about 
an affair with a girl at home. A convalescent furlough followed 
during which he became increasingly nervous. His parents were 
especially concerned because his apathy and listlessness wer<5 in 
marked contrast to his earlier ways. As the time for his return to 
flight training approached, he worried almost continually. Driv- 
ing back to camp with his parents, he became upset every time 
he heard a plane fly overhead. His behavior in the squadron 
orderly room when he checked in was so peculiar that he was 
sent back to the hospital. 

For the next five months P.W.A. remained in the hospital suffer- 
ing from an acute psychosis. He talked to himself, wandered 
about aimlessly, smiled inappropriately and was careless about 
his appearance. He also wrote on the walls. At times he rolled 
his eyes up in his head and leaned back against the wall while 
staring at the ceiling. Later he explained that he had been listen- 
ing to voices. At other times he would sit quietly and write the 
names of the states over and over again. His speech was dis- 
organized. "Well, I think President Roosevelt was about right. 
I suppose you might say I was yellow. I can't figure just how I 
landed here. There are better men than I dying around here 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 51 

now." Again, for no apparent reason at all, "I would not want to 
disturb an old barracks roommate of mine on his career in avi- 
ation." The feeling of antagonism toward his father was especially 
evident in his discussions of "homopatricide." Once he seemed 
to think he had killed his father, but later denied it. When 
brought before a medical board for discharge, he was obviously 
psychotic and a transfer to a civilian mental hospital was recom- 
mended. However, his parents finally obtained permission to take 
him home. 

For a little over a year he remained at home doing very little. 
Gradually his thoughts of flying and glory and crashes and death 
began to recede. By mid-1944 the world of aviation had become 
a thing of the distant past and he was able to take up his career 
again. Entering law school he worked hard and within two years 
had passed the bar examinations. Later he worked as a law clerk 
and by 1954 was an assistant district attorney of his county. He 
married in 1949, but to date has had no children. He is now doing 
very well and has an income exceeding $10,000 a year (38, pp. 

P.W.A. suflFered from anxiety attacks w^hich were apparently precipi- 
tated by flying or the expectation of flying. Finally, faced with the pros- 
pect of extensive flight training and no longer protected by the presence 
of a physical disease, pneumonia, he broke down completely. At this 
point he developed symptoms involving bizarre behavior, confused 
thought, and auditory hallucinations, which manifest the break with the 
demands of reality characteristic among psychotics. P.W.A.'s case may be 
described as a severe psychosis, luckily of relatively short duration, with 
anxiety as the predominant emotion. 

A.P.T. was the eighth of nine children and was born in this 
country to parents of Italian origin. Brought up in a Northeastern 
city, he attended schools there and did satisfactory work until he 
reached the third grade. At that time his father, a shoemaker, 
suffered a stroke which partially incapacitated him, and A.P.T.'s 
work then became so poor that he had to repeat a grade. He left 
school at the age of seventeen after completing his junior year of 
high school. 

Except for his early difficulties his marks were good and he had 
many friends among his classmates. While in school and for a 
year afterwards he worked as a clerk in his brother-in-law's 
grocery store and received some training as a butcher. Later 
after being turned down for enlistment in both the Navy and 
Marines he took a better paying job at a shipyard. In late 1942 he 
was drafted at the age of twenty. 

52 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Private T. received his basic training in the Medical Corps at a 
camp in the South. Although his initial duty was as a litter bearer, 
he was soon shifted to the kitchen where he worked as a cook's 
helper. In all, he spent nearly two years in this country before 
being sent overseas with an army headquarters to the South 
Pacific. Arriving in New Guinea he was rapidly promoted to the 
rank of technician fourth grade in early February 1945. In early 
July, shortly after the headquarters was shifted to the Philippines, 
the soldier received word that his father, whose health had be- 
come increasingly worse over the last few years, had suffered 
another stroke and was completely bed-ridden. There was some 
question as to whether he would live very long. 

A.P.T. became rather depressed over this news and ate very 
httle with the result that he lost almost twenty pounds in a few 
weeks. His energy seemed to evaporate and he was often nau- 
seated. In late July he went on sick call and after being treated in 
his quarters for several days was hospitalized. Although seen by 
a psychiatrist he was not considered to be severely emotionally 
disturbed, but when he was about to be returned to duty in early 
September he was discovered one morning hanging from a 
rafter with a tent rope around his neck. Cut down immediately, 
he survived his suicide attempt although with rather severe neck 
injuries. Following this episode he was returned to the States in 
a markedly depressed state. With electroshock treatment he im- 
proved somewhat and was discharged just before Christmas 

Back at home he remained depressed and anxious and was unable 
to work at all for over a year. Finally, he returned to his former 
job at the grocery, but became so excited and upset during rush 
hours that he had to quit after a few months. Again, he was un- 
able to work for a period of time. In the summer of 1947 he took 
a job with a soft-drink manufacturing company as a laborer, but 
again had to stop work because he was too nervous. 

In early 1948 he entered on-the-job training under the Veterans 
Administration as a meat cutter with a chain grocery store. He 
completed his training there in late 1950 and was hired as a 
regular employee in the meat department. He was married in 
mid- 1949 and shortly after that began to attend courses in meat 
cutting at a trade school to supplement the training he was get- 
ting at the store. 

Although A.P.T.'s work was considered satisfactory by his em- 
ployer, this was primarily the result, at least initially, of his great 
popularity with the store's clients. Friendly and always helpful, 
he rapidly accumulated a group of personal customers who al- 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 53 

ways asked for him when they came in to buy meat. Because of 
this his employer made only limited demands of him and per- 
mitted him to take time off whenever he became upset. Often 
when this happened the veteran would go to the back of the store 
and spend two or three hours by himself before returning to serve 
customers. On other occasions he was too depressed and dis- 
turbed to work at all and as a result was away from work for six 
or seven weeks out of the year. 

He considered himself somehow inferior to others and tended 
to avoid social activities. These feelings of inferiority became al- 
most overwhelming at times and it was then that he would remain 
home for periods of time until he was able to bring his emotional 
upset under control. But his employer was extremely sympa- 
thetic and, realizing, in addition, the value of his popularity with 
the customers, made every effort to adjust the job to A.P.T.'s 
emotional state. Gradually, his periods of depression became less 
frequent and the veteran began to perform more effectively. At 
times he actually enjoyed his work although as of 1951 he still 
had to spend a good deal of time alone in the back of the store 
attempting to get his emotions under control (38, pp. 188-190). 

A.P.T. exhibits many of the symptoms that are characteristic when- 
ever depression is the predominant emotion — inability to eat, with a re- 
sultant severe loss of weight; intense conviction of inferiority; arousal of 
the depressed condition by the death or severe illness of a family member; 
attempted suicide. The condition appears to have reached tlie propor- 
tions of a psychosis during the Army hospitalization and apparently re- 
mained at that level of severity for some time after discharge. Later it sub- 
sided somewhat, and during the period of employment as a butcher 
A.P.T.'s emotional problems are probably more appropriately considered 
indicative of a neurosis. 

B.I.H., the oldest of seven children, was brought up in a large 
Midwestern city. His education was marked by almost constant 
difificulties largely because of his lack of interest in school work. 
He finally left school at the age of twenty when he completed the 
freshman year of high school, having to repeat several grades. 
There were numerous occasions when he was almost expelled 
from school. Sometimes it was because of truancy, as it was when 
he ran away from home for a week after an argument with his 
father when he was sixteen. Sometimes he got in trouble over 
fighting. His worst difficulties came when he was caught having 
sexual relations with a girl in the school cloakroom at the age of 
thirteen and when he was caught participating in sexual activities 
with several other boys in the washroom. But somehow he stayed 
in school. 

54 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

At the age of twelve B.I.H. began to experience a great deal of 
anxiety coupled with almost constant sexual preoccupation. When 
riding in the car he worried that the brakes might fail and every- 
one would be killed. He was caught masturbating several times 
by his father, who beat him severely. Although very upset over 
this he continued to masturbate several times a day. His sexual 
activities with women were frequent and often perverted. He had 
incestuous relations with two of his sisters until they were mar- 
ried. Although frequently worried about this constant sexual 
preoccupation, he was never able to control himself. At fifteen 
B.I.H. was fired from a job selling fruit from door to door after he 
withheld money from his employer. A job in a market was termi- 
nated after two days when he propositioned a woman customer. 
Later he worked in a machine shop, but was dismissed after 
breaking the machine. He was also fired after three months from 
a position in a paint shop. When drafted for military service he 
was employed as a stockroom worker in an aircraft plant. 

As a soldier Private H. performed quite well from his induction 
in late 1942 until the time he broke down in early 1945. He 
served for a year in the United States working as a laborer at 
various air bases in the Northeast. Shipped to England, he con- 
tinued at the same type of work until February of 1945 when he 
was transferred to an infantry replacement depot preparatory to 
assignment as a combat rifleman. At this time his fears began to 
mount. He had dizzy spells and pain around his heart. He was 
afraid he would be killed in combat. Later he talked of his con- 
viction that the sun was coming closer to the earth and would 
burn everyone to death. At other times he was afraid the ocean 
would sweep over the land and drown many people including 
himself. He claimed the other men picked on him and, once in 
the hospital, would sit for hours describing his lurid sexual be- 
havior, dwelling on the details. He would end up by saying: "I'm 
bad clear through. I wonder what you must think of me." He 
was returned to the States and discharged in June. 

B.I.H. returned to live with his parents and after about a month 
obtained a very good job in the molding department of a rubber 
manufacturing company. He was paid at a base rate of $1.80 an 
hour — much more than he had ever made before. The work, 
however, was too demanding for him. The noise bothered him 
and he became panicky on the rare occasion when he was pro- 
ducing at a high enough rate to earn a bonus. He lost a good deal 
of time from the job only because he could not bring himself to 
go to the factory and face all the noise and confusion. When he 
was working he was so nervous he could hardly stay on the job. 
He was very worried about how he would support himself since 
he felt sure that he would soon either lose his job or be seriously 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 55 

injured. He was still sure the sun was too close to the earth and 
expected that at any moment he might catch fire and burn to 

As time went by his state became quite obvious to his foreman, 
who was afraid that B.I.H. would collapse completely if he re- 
mained in the mold department. In addition his production was 
so poor that it was not feasible to pay him at his former rate. In 
fact the choice was between firing him outright and giving him a 
trial at a lower level job. The company chose the latter course 
largely because he was a disabled veteran, and finally, he was 
shifted to another position at the same factory which the company 
considered less stressful. As a laborer assigned to loading tires 
he was able to work in a noise free area under much less 
pressure. His pay was changed to a day rate basis and, after a 
period of what amounted to probation in this position, the de- 
cision was made to retain him. 

B.I.H. has continued to work as a laborer at the same factory. 
His fears have largely disappeared and although his work is not 
considered very good, it is at least satisfactory. He is absent from 
the job rather frequently, but the company does not feel that 
this is an adequate basis for firing him. For the first time in his 
life he has been able to hold a job over a sizable period of time 
and perform in an acceptable manner. He continues to live at 
home, although his mother died in 1950. At the time of his last 
examination for pension purposes, the V.A. doctors considered 
the veteran almost completely recovered and noted that in actual 
fact he was doing much better than he had before military 
service (38, pp. 190-192). 

B.I.H. appears to have been experiencing severe anxiety since his early 
teens. During his military service he also developed physical symptoms 
which were clearly related to his emotional state. In general the case de- 
scription suggests a long-term neurosis. However, at times, when he faced 
the prospect of combat and when employed in the molding department 
of the rubber company, his anxiety level apparently mounted to the point 
where thinking became severely deluded and distorted. His convictions 
regarding the relationship of the sun and the earth suggest strongly that, 
for periods of time at least, he did become psychotic. 

Emotions and Performance 

From what has already been said it will be apparent that emotions and 
emotional disturbances may or may not aflFect job performance. The ef- 
fects vary with the emotions aroused, their severity, the type of defenses 

56 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

employed, and the specific nature of the work situation. Without question, 
some people perform more effectively in certain jobs as a result of their 
emotional problems. They may, for instance, be driven to an intense con- 
centration on work in an effort to ward off anxiety and guilt. This process 
will be discussed at length in the next chapter. Under many circumstances, 
however, anxiety, depression, anger, and other emotions are strategic for 
performance failure. Similarly, the various techniques adopted to defend 
against disturbing emotions frequently serve to decrease effectiveness. 

Research on anxiety has revealed a number of ways in which it may af- 
fect performance ( 31 ) . Visual perception is likely to be disturbed, with a 
resulting increase in errors on tasks such as those performed in most cleri- 
cal occupations, inspection jobs, and the like. This reduced perceptual 
efficiency is also reflected in a general reduction in speed. There is likely 
to be difficulty in learning new things. The anxious employee charac- 
teristically needs a much longer period of training when introduced to un- 
familiar job duties, and even then learning may be incomplete. Skill is 
decreased in tasks requiring dexterity and muscular coordination. Intellec- 
tual processes are also affected: Memory is poorer; reasoning and prob- 
lem solving tend to suffer. Apparently the person experiencing severe anx- 
iety finds it so difficult to concentrate on other matters that job demands 
are not fulfilled. He cannot devote his attention and energies to his work. 

Depression and guilt characteristically have performance effects simi- 
lar to anxiety. In addition, the depressed person is likely to slow up mark- 
edly with a resulting decrease in the quantity of work output. There may 
also be a pervasive sense of inadequacy with a great deal of self-depreca- 
tion and an almost total loss of confidence. As a result, decisions may be 
inordinately delayed and the capacity for independent action without 
constant prodding may be at a minimum. Where guilt predominates, glar- 
ing errors may be made with a view to provoking criticism. The man actu- 
ally brings punishment down on himself in order to allay his emotion, al- 
though he is unlikely to be aware of what he is doing. 

Anger may have an impact on performance which differs somewhat 
from that of the other emotions. For one thing, the direct and appropriate 
expression of anger and hatred is not common in people suffering from 
an emotional illness. When anger is found in emotional disorders, expres- 
sion is often delayed to the point where it is very difficult to determine 
what the original precipitating event was. Either that, or the anger is 
clearly intertwined with anxiety and emerges as petulance, sulkiness, neg- 
ativism, or a constant irritability and moodiness. If negativism predomi- 
nates, the quality and quantity of the man's work may be impaired be- 
cause of what amounts to a refusal to do what management wants. More 
frequently, chronic anger results in performance failure due to a negative 
impact on the work of others. The man appears to be a troublemaker, 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 57 

always stirring up his fellow employees and interfering with their work. 
Such general antagonism may also manifest itself in breakage, theft, or 
other behavior which has a direct detrimental effect on profitability. This 
should not, however, be taken to mean that anger and resentment can- 
not, on occasion, have a direct effect on the quality and quantity of the 
man's own work. There is definite evidence that such direct effects do 
occur (52). 

The avenues through which many of the symptoms previously de- 
scribed may influence performance need little explanation. A number of 
these symptoms involve excessive reliance on defensive processes which 
clearly preclude any productive work. This is particularly true where a 
psychosis is involved. In addition, severe physical symptoms may well 
contribute to excessive absenteeism, and a resort to various techniques 
of avoiding disturbing situations may result in a failure to perform im- 
portant job duties or to appear for work at all. 

The role of intellective defenses in performance may be less obvious. 
Certain kinds of managerial decision making, for instance, can be severely 
hampered by emotional problems whose existence is not apparent. It is 
always difficult for an individual to determine exactly what people think 
of him and thus whether his feelings of inadequacy have any justification 
in the opinions of others. Faced with this ambiguity on such an important 
issue, he tends to fill the gaps in his knowledge with hypotheses which 
may be based on minimal information (33). Should a manager begin to 
develop intense feelings of inferiority and guilt, his job makes it particu- 
larly easy for him to ward them off by a process of selectively perceiving 
the world around him — ^by utilizing certain sources of information and 
not others. He may thus defend against his feelings of guilt by forming a 
conviction that he is really an outstanding businessman with tremendous 

A manager is in an ideal position to do this because he can base his 
hypotheses regarding himself entirely on the statements of his subor- 
dinates. The nature of company organization makes employees depend- 
ent on those above them for salary increases, promotion, even continued 
employment. As a result comments by subordinates about their immedi- 
ate superiors, insofar as they reach the superior's ears, are likely to be 
uniformly favorable irrespective of actual performance. A manager can 
then reject, as purely a matter of company politics or sour grapes, any 
less favorable comments made by other managers at an equal or higher 
level. On occasion the denial may be total — the manager may completely 
fail to hear criticism or refuse to listen to it. 

As a result of this process of selecting the evidence, the manager re- 
places feelings of guilt and inferiority by first a hypothesis, then a con- 
viction of what may border on omniscience. He is sure he has a special 

58 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

skill, a superior business acumen. He becomes certain of his marked supe- 
riority to others, and as a consequence he makes less and less effort to 
base his business decisions on a substantial underpinning of fact. Each 
decision becomes a testament to his personal and unique ability. He does 
not need to collect and evaluate information in order to arrive at a con- 
clusion; he knows. There can be little question that when the defensive 
process attains such proportions, actual job performance suffers dras- 
tically. If the man is at a high level, the impact on company profits be- 
cause of unwise decisions may be considerable. 

This is one way in which intellective defenses that have reached the 
proportions of symptoms may contribute to performance failure. The 
case is not atypical. In fact, it appears that symptoms of emotional illness 
are particularly likely to interfere with work when the individual is em- 
ployed in a higher-level position. Jobs requiring only limited skill are 
much less vulnerable to emotional disruption. In one series of studies 
(45) among semiskilled production workers in a British factory, no rela- 
tionship between psychiatric ratings of emotional health and job-per- 
formance indexes was found at all. Workers who had a number of symp- 
toms were no less effective than those who were symptom-free. On the 
other hand, a study of two groups of skilled workers ( 51 ) yielded definite 
evidence that many of those who were considered ineffective were ham- 
pered by severe anxiety, depression, and feelings of inadequacy. Others 
failed because of a constant rebelliousness and belligerence which made 
them chronic supervisory problems. These men were unable to cooperate 
with others in the work group because they either did not or could not 
adequately control the expression of anger and jealousy. Research con- 
ducted among factory supervisors has produced similar results ( 53 ) : In- 
dexes of emotional illness predominated among those who were unsuc- 

A follow-up of men discharged from the Army during World War II 
because of incapacitating emotional illness provides further evidence (48) . 
Employment status approximately ten years after separation from mili- 
tary service was determined for a group of men who had been diagnosed 
as psychotic and for a group diagnosed as neurotic. Included in the study 
was a comparable group which had not experienced emotional disturb- 
ances while in service and which had been discharged at the end of the 
war during demobilization. Among those who had formerly suffered from 
psychoses and who were employed at the time of the follow-up, the level 
of jobs held was comparable to that among the men who had not experi- 
enced an emotional breakdown. There was no evidence that occupational 
adjustment had suffered as a result of a severe emotional disturbance 
initiated during military service. However, almost 50 percent of those 
who had been prematurely discharged for psychosis were not working 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 59 

at the time of follow-up. This percentage was almost seven times as large 
as that in the group demobilized at the end of the war. About a third of 
the unemployed were in mental hospitals; most of the remainder were 
still severely disturbed emotionally even though not hospitalized. Char- 
acteristically, the latter had held a number of low-level jobs interspersed 
with long periods of unemployment. Apparently, either psychoses clear 
relatively rapidly to the point where careers may be resumed ( the case of 
the young lawyer, P.W.A., is typical) or they linger and have an almost 
totally disruptive effect on occupational adjustment. Where symptoms 
remain of psychotic, or near-psychotic, proportions, performance is likely 
to be poor irrespective of job level. 

Among those who had suffered from a neurosis at the time of discharge, 
the picture was quite different. Almost all the men were working ten years 
later. But they were much more likely to be in unskilled positions than 
were the men who had not been separated from the Army for emotional 
disorder. And they were less likely to be in skilled and supervisory posi- 
tions. Presumably, either the neurotic symptoms had remained long 
enough in a number of cases to interfere with performance in higher- 
level positions and thus make demotion necessary (as with B.I.H.), or 
the symptoms had prevented these men from being selected for employ- 
ment at higher levels in the first place. In any event this evidence, com- 
bined with that noted previously, makes a convincing case for the view 
that neurosis tends to have its greatest impact on work above the semi- 
skilled level. 

Some insight into why this may be is provided by a series of studies con- 
ducted at plants of the General Electric Company (52). In each instance 
two groups of employees working on production lines and performing 
identical tasks were compared. One group was exposed intentionally to 
a number of frustrating situations over a period of several weeks. As a re- 
sult the men became angry and dissatisfied. The other group was, insofar 
as possible, freed from any potential source of frustration. However, the 
two groups maintained equally effective production records during this 
initial period. The anger seemed to have had no effect. But this was not 
the case when subsequently a major changeover in work procedures was 
introduced. At this point the quality and quantity of the work turned out 
by the group exposed to constant annoyances deteriorated badly in com- 
parison with that of the group treated well. 

Apparently, as long as the job remains automatic and routine, workers 
can almost "do it in their sleep." Under such circumstances anger has little 
impact. When, however, concentration and attention are required, such 
as during and immediately after a period of changeover, anger does inter- 
fere and performance is disrupted. Since jobs above the semiskilled level 
cannot as a rule be performed automatically, emotions and emotional 

60 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

symptoms are more likely to have a detrimental impact on performance. 
The greater the amount of new learning, thought, and decision making 
required in a position, the more probable it is that ineffectiveness will be 
produced by intense emotional experience. 

There are also certain kinds of work which are particularly sensitive to 
disruption by excessive emotion. A sales occupation, for instance, is easily 
affected if the man feels intense anxiety and guilt ( 46, 53 ) , particularly if 
these emotions are often precipitated in the presence of other people. A 
major factor in the failure of soldiers who perform ineffectively during 
parachute training is their inability to cope with the intense anxiety that 
the jump situation may produce. Refusal to jump almost invariably re- 
flects the presence of acute, immobilizing anxiety (31). There are many 
more instances where specific emotional reactions are strategic for fail- 
ure in specific types of work. This problem will be taken up again in 
later chapters. 

Correction and Treatment 

The role of the manager in instances where emotional illness con- 
tributes to performance failure is twofold. The first requirement is that the 
disorder be recognized as such. The second is that appropriate action be 
taken. The preceding discussions have dealt at some length with the 
need for developing a sensitivity to signs of emotional disturbance. This 
section will turn to the question of managerial action. 

It should be evident that managers cannot engage in the treatment of 
emotional problems. They are neither qualified nor in an appropriate 
position to do so. They are, however, in a vital position as a link between 
the individual and the various treatment sources. It is in this area that 
some of the greatest difficulties arise. There is an aura of shame and con- 
demnation surrounding the idea of psychiatric treatment, to the point 
where many people often react negatively to any suggestion that they 
need help with an emotional problem. A recent study (39) indicates that 
approximately 45 percent of the adults in the United States could be ex- 
pected to resist the idea of seeking help, and another 25 percent might or 
might not accept such a recommendation should circumstances make it 
appropriate. Efforts to get a person into treatment are most likely to suc- 
ceed when he is experiencing a great deal of anxiety and unhappiness. A 
person is also more receptive to the idea of treatment when he is fully 
aware of the impending or actual breakdown and of the existence of 
symptoms having emotional origins. Physical symptoms which derive 
from emotional factors are not likely to be included in this category. 
Where physical symptoms predominate, the individual will generally 
consider his problems to be medical rather than psychiatric in nature 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 61 

and will strongly resist any protestations to the contrary. Another factor 
in attitudes toward treatment is educational level. The higher this is, the 
greater the probability that an emotionally disturbed person will respond 
favorably to a suggestion that he might benefit from professional help. 

In view of the widespread resistance to any idea that problems may be 
of emotional origin and sufficiently severe to require treatment, the man- 
ager would do well to be extremely careful in dealing with situations of 
this type. Efforts born out of the most humane motives can frequently 
backfire and drastically increase the manager's difficulties. In general it is 
probably best not to recommend treatment unless performance has suf- 
fered or unless the man himself has introduced the subject of his emo- 
tional problems. Should a manager take it upon himself to announce 
his diagnosis to a subordinate when the man's performance is satisfactory, 
he will run the risk of arousing considerable resentment not only in that 
individual but in the group as a whole. And the man's condition may 
deteriorate as a result. 

On the other hand, if work has been severely disrupted, managerial 
initiative of this kind is entirely appropriate — providing, of course, that 
there is some possibility of success. There is little to be gained by recom- 
mending treatment to an individual who will almost certainly reject such 
a suggestion and who is not sufficiently disturbed to require hospitaliza- 
tion. In such cases, where the probability of resistance is very high, some 
solution other than professional treatment must be formulated. 

One further caution. Although many emotionally disturbed people try 
to keep their superiors from becoming aware of their problems, this is not 
always the case. Sometimes a subordinate will want to pour out his or her 
problems to anyone who will listen, or will specifically seek out a super- 
visor for this purpose. Under such circumstances it is not easy to turn a 
cold shoulder. Yet the manager who can bring himself to send such a per- 
son to a more appropriate listener may save himself much future trou- 
ble. The managerial job involves recognizing the need for help and mak- 
ing every effort to see that help is obtained. Should this role be extended, 
so that the manager-subordinate relationship becomes similar to a doctor- 
patient one, the emotionally disturbed individual can well begin to make 
special demands on his boss which the latter may find hard to resist. Or 
in refusing to give such special considerations, the manager may provoke 
resentments which further extend an already difficult situation. 

Becoming closely, and perhaps emotionally, involved in a subordinate's 
problems can have another unfortunate consequence. As the individual 
pours out his problems, much may be revealed regarding marital diffi- 
culties, personal animosities, etc., that he will subsequently regret. Guilt 
and shame may follow the discussion, and the subordinate may become 
so disturbed by the thought of what his superior now knows and there- 

62 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

fore must think of him, that all personal contact is avoided. At this point 
the manager himself has become a direct source of anxiety to his subordi- 
nate, and the work relationship is inevitably and unnecessarily impaired. 

The specific person to whom emotionally disturbed employees should 
be referred depends on the company and the nature of the work situation. 
The important thing is that it be someone familiar with treatment 
resources in the community. This may be a company psychologist or 
psychiatrist, a physician in the medical division, or someone in the per- 
sonnel department. In many instances such intermediaries within the or- 
ganization will not exist, and the manager will have to direct his subordi- 
nate to someone outside the company. If a qualified professional special- 
ist — that is, a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist — ^is not specified at such 
times, the man will probably turn to a clergyman or a physician without 
psychiatric training. Although such people may be able to help when the 
emotional disturbance is relatively mild, they cannot generally provide 
treatment for disorders of a more severe nature — the kind that are likely 
to be present when work performance is disrupted. In the case of condi- 
tions reaching psychotic proportions, some type of treatment within the 
confines of a mental hospital is usually required. In any event, whether 
the disorder constitutes a psychosis or a neurosis, it is important that the 
individual ultimately be seen by a professionally qualified person. Unless 
this is done, it is very unlikely that treatment will restore an effective 
level of performance on anything approaching a permanent basis. 

Although the manager himself will not be personally involved in any 
treatment, it is helpful to know the techniques currently employed in or- 
der to form some opinion concerning when effective performance may be 
expected. Where a psychosis has made continued work performance un- 
desirable or impossible, hospitalization is normal. Treatments vary, but 
at the present various forms of shock therapy are widely used with psy- 
chotics. Insulin-produced convulsions and coma seem to be most effec- 
tive with severe panic states, and electrically induced convulsions most 
successful where depression or extreme excitement predominates. Various 
drugs have also proved to be of considerable value, especially in reducing 
emotional states to manageable proportions and in making it possible for 
patients to return at least to their homes and communities, if not always 
to satisfactory levels of work performance. The drugs have the added ad- 
vantage that they may permit this release from hospitalization within a 
relatively short period of time. 

Where other techniques have been tried and have failed, various brain 
operations are sometimes performed. These operations characteristically 
lower the intensity of emotional experience and thus reduce the prob- 
ability that continued hospitalization will be required. There is usually, 
however, some permanent impairment in intellectual functioning, par- 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 63 

ticularly memory, as well as a major change in personality. As a result 
the patient may not be able to return to employment, and if he does, it 
may be necessary to restrict him to relatively low-level positions. 

Drug and shock therapies characteristically do not have long-term det- 
rimental effects of this kind, and many people who have suffered from 
severe psychoses have been returned to their jobs within reasonable peri- 
ods of time. Rapid cures, within three to six months, are particularly 
likely when the predominant emotion has been either depression or ex- 
citement and when electric shock therapy has been employed. The rate 
of short-term cure in psychoses where anxiety, panic, and belligerence 
are the major emotions is by no means as satisfactory, especially if there 
have been prior hospitalizations for emotional disorder. 

Although psychotherapy is sometimes employed with psychoses, oc- 
casionally with striking success, it is used primarily as a cure for neuroses. 
In such instances the treatment characteristically requires from one to five 
hours a week, spent either at the therapist's office or at a clinic. The pa- 
tient describes his feelings, his thoughts, and his dreams while the thera- 
pist attempts to help him gain sufficient understanding of himself to per- 
mit more adequate control of his emotions. The length of treatment varies 
from a few months to five years or more, depending on the severity of 
symptoms and the degree of personality change envisioned. In most cases 
psychotherapy will not provide a short-term solution when emotional ill- 
ness is strategic for performance failure. Personality change under these 
conditions is likely to be a gradual process. In addition, psychotherapy 
requires the willing cooperation of the patient. He must want to undergo 
treatment and solve his problems. Those who resist strongly because they 
believe they can handle the situation alone, or because they do not really 
want to change, are not likely to benefit from such treatment even when 
coerced in some way into attempting it. 

In recent years the so-called tranquilizing drugs have also been used 
extensively in the treatment of neuroses. When these drugs are effective, 
they tend to produce very rapid improvement. They do frequently reduce 
the level of anxiety and guilt and thus may well permit continued per- 
formance in a person who would otherwise be incapable of a satisfactory 
work adjustment. Unfortunately, like all the procedures mentioned, they 
are far from universally effective. In many cases they delay, but do not 
provide protection against, an eventual breakdown. 

Treatment of the psychoses is clearly a psychiatric problem usually re- 
quiring hospitalization, but the neuroses are much more prevalent, and 
in many instances those who suffer from them attempt to continue their 
employment. Often such people refuse any kind of treatment. Those who 
do seek help may not benefit over any extended period of time, and the 
much larger number who are cured are likely to achieve continued free- 

64 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

dom from incapacitating symptoms only during the latter stages of a 
lengthy treatment process. In addition, there are many individuals whose 
typical emotional reactions interfere with performance in their specific 
jobs, but who cannot be considered emotionally ill and in need of treat- 
ment. An example might be a rather sensitive sales clerk who had a tend- 
ency to tell customers what she thought of them. 

A possible solution is suggested by studies which have revealed that 
many of the men discharged from military service during World War II 
for neuroses were able to readjust rather rapidly (6). About 65 percent 
achieved a satisfactory permanent adjustment within two years of dis- 
charge, in spite of the fact that only a very small number received any 
type of treatment during this period. Another 15 percent appear to have 
adjusted eventually, although only after rather long periods of continued 
or intermittent illness. A crucial factor in this very high rate of cure seems 
to be that these men were all forced out of the situation and environment 
in which their disorders had become manifest and were required to seek 
a new environment where they could continue their badly disrupted lives. 
They were aided in finding a situation relatively free of stress by families, 
friends, employers, veterans organizations, the Veterans Administration, 
and educators, but very rarely by any kind of psychotherapy or psychi- 
atric treatment. 

Similar readjustments can be made within an organization if sources of 
stress can be identified and subsequently removed. Sometimes a job can 
be changed so that the causes of anxiety are eliminated. Sometimes the 
man can be shifted to another type of work, another work situation, or an- 
other supervisor where his specific sensitivities will not be activated. Fre- 
quently, assigning a man more routine tasks where less concentration and 
decision making are required will permit him to perform effectively in spite 
of his symptoms. The important thing is to find a situation which will 
either minimize stress or where symptoms will not interfere. At the same 
time the man should be induced to begin treatment, if this is appropriate 
and if it can be accomplished. Often demotion to a less emotionally de- 
manding position is required, although sometimes promotion to a job 
which carries more status and is less provocative of shame and embarrass- 
ment can help. The course taken will have to take account of the nature 
of symptoms, the type of emotion, and any specific sources of stress that 
may be present at work. 

In many instances, of course, this kind of organizational action will be 
severely restricted by limitations on the courses that are in fact available. 
It may well be, especially where symptoms are of a severe nature, that 
after all possible means of retention have been explored, employment 
will have to be terminated. Further investment in the man may be un- 
warranted when the possibilities for future effective performance in an 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 65 

appropriate job are realistically evaluated. Firing may be the only course 
open when a man actively resists all eflForts to find a solution to his prob- 


Alcoholism is given separate consideration in this chapter to focus at- 
tention on one of the most persistent managerial problems in industry — 
and one of the least understood. Although because of drinking on the job, 
hangovers, and anxiety, alcoholics often turn out insufficient work or work 
of poor quality, absenteeism is the major source of difficulty. In one com- 
pany (50) a group of knowni alcoholics lost 2.5 times as many days from 
work as a group of nonalcoholics of similar sex, age, length of service, job 
type, and ethnic background. These absences were not entirely due to 
drinking per se; the alcoholics had 3.6 times as many accidents. The oflF- 
the-job rate was particularly high. On-the-job accidents were excessively 
frequent up to about the age of forty, but after that, for some reason, there 
was no evidence of any association between accidents at work and alco- 

When combined with the vitamin deficiency which is its almost invari- 
able concomitant ( due either to the selection of an inadequate diet or to a 
failure to eat at all during periods of intoxication ) , excessive drinking may 
result in incapacitating physical disorders. Permanent brain injury in- 
volving severe memory defect is frequent. In fact, unlike other emotional 
disorders except for suicidal depressions and a few physical symptoms of 
emotional origin, alcoholism may well terminate in death. The impor- 
tance of managerial action in this area is further indicated by the fact that 
any company may expect to find at least 3 percent of its work force sufiFer- 
ing from the disorder. 

In view of the frequent uncertainty regarding the kind of behavior that 
actually establishes a man as alcoholic, it may be helpful to start the dis- 
cussion with another case history from Breakdown and Recovery. 

Little is known of W.G.'s early history other than the fact that 
he was born and grew up in a large Midwestern city. He went as 
far as the second year of college, married, and worked for a 
number of years as an inspector for a candy company. In 1935 
during his wife's pregnancy he became quite nervous, but was 
able to continue with his work. Three years later, however, at the 
age of twenty-four he began to drink rather heavily. As the 
drinking continued he had periods of delirium when he trembled 
all over and was very excited and anxious. Frequently he started 
drinking in the morning to steady his nerves. He began to stay 
away from home for periods of time on drinking bouts. Finally, 

66 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

his wife divorced him for drunkenness and was given custody of 
their child. At this time W.G. was employed as a government 
clerk, a job which he lost shortly before induction because of his 

Private G. took his basic training with the Signal Corps in late 
1942 and early 1943. Military life, with its new demands and 
pressures, led the soldier to increased drinking. Toward the end 
of his three-month training period, he went on his first drinking 
bout, which lasted four days. As a result, his final weeks at the 
Signal Corps Replacement Training Center were spent at hard 
manual labor. Nevertheless, because of his education and in- 
telligence he was assigned to relatively responsible duties as a 
clerk in a signal supply organization. But the alcoholic pattern 
continued. In the next four months he was absent without leave 
twice and spent over a month in the stockade. His imprisonment 
would have been longer, but his outfit was alerted for overseas 
shipment and he went with them to the port of embarkation. 

While waiting to embark, Private G.'s company went through 
the usual training exercises. During one of these — an obstacle 
course — the soldier jumped from a high platform and broke a 
bone in his foot. He was hospitalized and his company shipped 
out without him. This was the beginning of a period of almost a 
year during which he was shifted from one hospital to another. 
As his foot began to heal, Private G.'s anxiety increased and his 
need for liquor, which he could not obtain in the hospital, became 
almost unendurable. He started going AWOL to get a drink. One 
drink led to another and sometimes he was away from camp 
for as long as three weeks at a time. In seven months he was 
absent on five separate occasions for a total of fifty-four days. 

Finally, after returning from his last bout in a delirious state he 
was transferred from the medical to the psychiatric ward where 
he was kept in confinement for the next several months. The 
restriction only increased his craving for liquor and on his release 
he got drunk again. Again he was admitted to the psychiatric 
section in an alcoholic delirium. At that time the doctor decided 
that since Private G. had real capabilities and since he wanted 
to return to duty, he should be given one last chance. Although 
the soldier signed a pledge to abstain from all liquor, within two 
weeks he was back on the psychiatric ward in an intoxicated 
state. At that point the Army decided that nothing further could 
be done to help the soldier and he was discharged "without 
honor." At the board proceedings, the soldier said of himself: 
"I cannot seem to give the cause of the first drink. However, 
when I drink a little bit I cannot stop for several days. Then I 
will quit for a period of time, nothing at all, no alcohol. However, 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 67 

in the Army, with the seriousness which I think is due to the 
pressure of Army life which all of us in the service know is 
prevalent, it is worse." 

On returning home, W.G. continued to drink heavily. Nine 
months after his discharge he was admitted to the V.A. hospital 
for alcohohsm with acute comphcations. Within twenty-four 
hours he died of heart disease. W.G. Hterally drank himself to 
death within six years. When his widow apphed for a pension 
on behalf of his child, it was denied on the ground that the 
character of discharge barred payment of death compensation or 
pension benefits (38, pp. 30-32) . 

W.G.'s drinking clearly fits the definition of symptomatic behavior in 
an emotional illness. He employed liquor, as others may employ drugs or 
gambling or petty theft, in an effort to erase anxiety; he used it as a de- 
fense. The symptom became so inflexible that marriage, employment, 
freedom from imprisonment, promises to stop drinking, and eventually, 
life itself fell before it. There can be little doubt that the ongoing processes 
of existence were being disrupted by his symptom long before W.G. en- 
tered military service. 

Probably the most difficult problem in the management of alcoholism 
is identification. It is characteristic for employees to cover up for their 
friends who have been drinking too heavily. Every effort is made to keep 
management from finding out about such things; often the man's immedi- 
ate supervisor is also involved in the conspiracy. Many alcoholics are 
good workers when sober. They are likely to be "nice guys" and a lot of 
fun. No one wants to expose them to the risk of being fired, and so noth- 
ing is done. They continue to work intermittently and at times poorly 
year after year, until the condition becomes totally incapacitating and 
continued employment is no longer possible. 

A recent study based on extensive questioning of approximately two 
hundred members of Alcoholics Anonymous provides valuable informa- 
tion that can help in the identification of alcoholism (55). Absences are 
likely to be frequent and the total amount of time lost considerable. 
Leaving work during the morning or at the noon hour is particularly 
common. The absenteeism is generally accompanied by a variety of ex- 
cuses, some of which are improbable and peculiar. Inconsistencies tend 
to appear in these stories, and there is frequent mention of colds, flu, stom- 
ach upsets, and virus conditions. On the job the red eyes and flushed face 
of a hangover are often in evidence. So too are hand tremors and the smell 
of either alcohol or breath cleansers. Work tends to be accomplished 
in spurts and slumps. There may be occasional temperamental outbursts 
and an unusual amount of suspiciousness. Also, problems outside work 

68 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

are likely to arise and eventually come to the attention of management — 
financial difficulties involving loan companies, mortgages, and charge ac- 
counts; marital discord, sometimes combined with a request that pay 
checks be sent directly to the wife; conflicts with neighbors or the police. 

Once a man has been identified as alcoholic and there is clear evidence 
of performance failure, the problem should be discussed with him. On the 
other hand, if performance is adequate, including the amount of absen- 
teeism, there is little basis for managerial action. The man is unlikely to 
accept recommendations regarding treatment when no justification for 
such action can be found in the work record itself. In fact, getting an 
alcoholic to agree that he has an emotional problem and needs treatment 
is a difficult process under any circumstances. If possible, the matter 
should be handled by someone with medical or psychological training 
within the company. Frequently the most appropriate course is to put the 
man in touch with the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous. Many 
companies have members of AA on the payroll who are contacted when 
an employee is known to have problems involving alcohol. The organi- 
zation is generally willing to do anything that can possibly help in such 
cases, and the rate of cure is relatively high; higher, in fact, than that for 
psychotherapy with alcoholics. 

If all eflForts to get the man to obtain help fail and if performance con- 
tinues to be poor, a probationary period should be instituted with the 
understanding that a failure to improve will result in the termination of 
employment. In this connection, if the man contends that he has ob- 
tained help with his problem, a check should be made to ensure that treat- 
ment is in fact continuing. Emotionally disturbed people are not always 
entirely truthful about such matters. If the difficulties continue during the 
period of probation, the man should be fired. This is recommended as the 
most appropriate action from both a company and a therapeutic view- 
point. The shock of "hitting bottom" in this manner may serve as a mo- 
tive for treatment. Many alcohohcs are very skillful in extracting another 
chance under such circumstances by promising that they will never take 
another drink. When these pleas are finally ignored, they will turn to al- 
ternative courses of action and may well seek help with a problem they 
now recognize as more than they can cope with alone. At the time of fir- 
ing the man should be told that he will be taken back when and if he can 
demonstrate that alcoholism is no longer likely to interfere with his per- 
formance. This is an important incentive to cure in many cases, especially 
if the man knows of people who have in fact been restored to employment 
by the company in this manner. 

In connection with the management of alcoholism, it is important to 
differentiate between an occupational cure and a clinical cure. A man may 
learn to control his drinking sufficiently so that absenteeism is minimal 

Emotions and Emotional Illness 69 

and other aspects of performance satisfactory even though he does not 
totally overcome the disorder. He may continue to drink heavily oflF the 
job, especially on weekends. In such instances it is easy to assume that 
performance is still inadequate without actually carrying out a reevalua- 
tion. Yet alcoholism, like other emotional disorders, may well exist with- 
out having an impact on the job itself. 

A Note on Incidence 

It would be desirable to know exactly what proportion of the United 
States population might be expected to fail on the job as a result of emo- 
tional factors, as well as to know the extent to which various types of 
emotions or emotional manifestations might be involved. However, no 
information of this kind is available. All that can be done is to provide 
the reader with some data regarding the incidence of certain kinds of emo- 
tional illness. The following discussion is based on statistics derived from 
the experience of the armed forces during World War II (37), from an 
interview survey conducted with a cross section of the U.S. adult popu- 
lation (39), and from various intensive studies of specific groups and 
localities (35,40). 

When rates for neurosis and psychosis are compared, the incidence 
of neurosis is at least five times that of psychosis. In fact, the more severe 
psychotic reactions are unlikely to be encountered very often in the busi- 
ness world. Rates for characteristic emotions in psychoses and neuroses 
show that anxiety or fear is unquestionably predominant in the great ma- 
jority of emotional disorders, although the manifestations and defenses 
employed are diverse. In many instances among psychotics as well as 
neurotics, anxiety is intermixed with guilt, shame, depression, and anger. 
Depression is the primary emotion in no more than 10 percent of all emo- 
tional disorders, and the percentage is approximately the same among 
psychotics and neurotics. The rates for extreme excitement and anger are 
well below 10 percent. 

Although males are more frequently treated for psychosis in mental hos- 
pitals — probably because illness is more likely to be noticed among those 
who are employed — there is good reason to believe that symptoms of an 
emotional nature are more prevalent among women. With respect to age 
groups, the incidence of neuroses and psychoses is known to increase 
steadily up to the late thirties. After that the picture is less clear. Probably 
new disorders appear for the first time among those over forty at about 
the same rate as they do in the late thirties. On the other hand, because 
many disorders continue over long periods, the total incidence is almost 
certainly higher in the older groups. Divorced and separated people, as 
well as those who have been widowed, have considerably higher rates of 

70 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

emotional illness than those who are married. Within the large cities psy- 
choses with anxiety predominating appear to be concentrated among peo- 
ple living in the downtown center-city areas. This pattern is not as pro- 
nounced for psychotics of other types. Both psychoses and neuroses are 
more prevalent among those who have had less education. 

In view of the previous discussion regarding the relationship between 
education and intelligence, one might expect intelligence, too, to be lower 
in the emotionally disturbed. The available evidence (47) tends to sup- 
port this conclusion, but with some interesting ramifications. When test 
scores obtained before breakdown are compared with population figures, 
both neurotics and psychotics cluster at the lower-score levels. However, 
when these people are followed up, it becomes clear that it is the severely 
and chronically disturbed who are of particularly low intelligence. Those 
who require long-term or repeated hospitalization for their disorder have, 
as a group, an average intelligence level well below that of the population 
as a whole. On the other hand, the psychotics and neurotics who do not 
require long-term treatment are not particularly likely to be intellectually 

The lower intelligence of the chronically disturbed, the relative defi- 
ciency in educational attainment among neurotics and psychotics, and 
the evidence that men discharged from military service for neurosis sub- 
sequently work in lower-level jobs, all point to the conclusion that emo- 
tional disorder is more prevalent in the less highly skilled positions. A 
recent study of blue-collar workers in thirteen Detroit automobile plants 
(43) supports this conjecture. Among men in their forties, 56 percent of 
the skilled workers proved to be in very good emotional health while 
only 26 percent of those in repetitive semiskilled positions were equally 
well adjusted. Among men in their twenties, emotional health was even 
rarer in routine semiskilled work. As has been discussed, performance is 
less likely to be affected by emotional illness in these relatively low-level 
positions. Thus the more emotionally disturbed probably tend to concen- 
trate in semiskilled jobs because they are able to maintain a satisfactory 
level of performance in this work. 



Owing largely to the impact of ideas developed by Sig- 
mund Freud, it has become common practice in psychology to assume 
that all human behavior is determined by some causal process — that it 
has a reason. Out of this assumption has emerged an extensive search for 
the mainsprings of human motivation. The search is far from completed. 
There is much of our day-to-day behavior which cannot yet be ade- 
quately understood in terms of any theoretical approach, and as much 
again which appears to be equally well explained by viewpoints which 
are widely divergent. Nevertheless, a degree of consensus is developing 
and a storehouse of tested conclusions does exist. 

Although research in this area has traditionally been conducted to solve 
problems of learning in lower animals, human motivation has in recent 
years increasingly become an object of study. The discussion here will be 
entirely restricted to studies of humans. The reader who desires a more 
comprehensive coverage of the field of motivation should carry his read- 
ing beyond these pages to some of the recent textbooks ( 61, 93 ) . 

Specifically, this chapter will be concerned with human interests, needs, 
wishes, impulses, drives, wants, intentions, motives, desires, attitudes, and 
the like. Much of the research dealing with these topics has been devoted 
to work performance. As a result, it is no longer necessary to use descrip- 
tive concepts such as laziness, lack of pep, inadequate competitive in- 
stincts, etc. More meaningful approaches have been developed which per- 
mit greater understanding of the specific factors in individual motivation 
that may be strategic for inefiFective performance. 

The first part of the chapter will be devoted to a few basic ideas re- 
garding the causation of human behavior. These may subsequently prove 
helpful in understanding the complex relationship between motivation 
and job performance. In the process we will mention and attempt to dis- 
prove a few widely held misconceptions. The next section will describe 



72 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

the. various ways in which motivation may interact with job requirements 
to produce various levels of performance. Special attention will be de- 
voted in this connection to fear of failure and pleasure in success. 
Although it would be impossible to mention all the other motives which 
may condition performance in one job or another, some which most fre- 
quently contribute to performance failure will be discussed. We will also 
cover the efiFects of attitudes toward work in general and the effects of in- 
terests existing in specific areas of work activity. Finally, as in preceding 
chapters, we will attempt to relate appropriate solutions to specific stra- 
tegic factors. 

Some Aspects of Human Motivation 

The tie between this and the previous chapter comes not only from the 
fact that both deal with aspects of personality, but from the central posi- 
tion in both of the concept of emotion. Human motivation is largely an 
emotional phenomenon, and human behavior derives almost entirely 
from the interaction of positive and negative emotional states, including 
both those anticipated and those actually experienced (58, 76). We act 
and talk as we do in part because we expect that we will thereby achieve 
certain events and conditions which will provoke pleasant emotions 
within us. Such an emotion might be expected as an immediate short- 
term consequence, as when we say something that we hope will bring 
praise from a listener. Or it might be tied to a goal which is many years 
away; a young man, for example, carries out certain activities on the job 
as he dreams of the day he will be appointed to a vice-presidency. We 
also attempt to continue those activities which we believe will maintain 
a feeling of pleasure once such an emotional state has been achieved. 

All motivation, however, is not of this positive nature. We also act in 
response to the anticipation of negative emotional states. We attempt to 
avoid that which we believe will provoke anxiety or distress, and when- 
ever these unpleasant emotions are unavoidable we act in ways calculated 
to reduce their duration and intensity. As with the positive process, nega- 
tive motivation can be either short-term or extended over time. A man 
may swerve his car when he sees another automobile approaching in the 
same lane, or he may refuse a promotion into management because of a 
fear that he might at some point be called upon to do something that 
would antagonize his subordinates and make him unpopular. 

The attempt to avoid negative emotional states is, of course, similar to 
the defensive process in symptoms of emotional disorder. However, these 
symptoms are unique within the realm of negative motivation in that 
they involve only specific kinds of behavior and represent responses to 
the threat of extremely unpleasant feelings — those extending beyond 


Individual Motivation to Work 73 

mere distress to intense anxiety and deep sorrow. Most important of all, 
they are of an inflexible and overpowering nature. In extreme conditions, 
the behavior is manifested no matter what the nature of external reality 
and no matter what other motives may have been activated in the indi- 
vidual. It is this inflexible, disruptive characteristic of symptomatic moti- 
vation that is most important in distinguishing it from other types of nega- 
tive motivation. The individual gives up everything he might otherwise 
have wanted in order to satisfy the insatiable demands of his symptom. 

In everyday life, of course, a variety of anticipated pleasures and dis- 
tresses interact and conflict to produce each outcome. Frequently, long- 
term, delayed rewards are in opposition to more immediate satisfac- 
tions, and the resultant behavior is motivated by one to the exclusion of 
the other. Immediate fear of a situation may give way to the anticipation 
of some future happiness which can be attained only if the situation is 
faced rather than avoided. Or the pleasure to be gained from spending a 
sum of money on some luxury item may take precedence over the long- 
term rewards to be expected from a wise investment. 

Each individual has his own hierarchy of motives, his own relatively 
stable patterns of dominance which determine, at least in a general way, 
the type of motivation that is likely to win out. Any symptoms of an emo- 
tional nature which he may possess are, of course, by their very nature 
likely to have a position at or near the top of the hierarchy. Other mo- 
tives, such as the expectation of fear at the prospect of deviant behavior 
( conformity ) and the anticipation of happiness on achieving the symbols 
of success (ambition), may also predominate. In the ensuing discussions 
of the relationship between motivation and performance, the more domi- 
nant motives will be our primary concern. 

Research has not yet revealed how the individual motivational hier- 
archies are developed. We do not know how to combine various bits of 
information regarding a person's previous experiences in order to predict 
which among his motives will predominate, just as we cannot predict who 
will be able to withstand intense anxiety and who will succumb at the 
first twinge. But it is clear that these patterns, and the individual motives 
which are their ingredients, are primarily learned rather than instinc- 
tive. They change from time to time, especially during the years of devel- 
oping maturity, and their are sizable differences between people with 
similar heredity. Human behavior, therefore, is not adequately explained 
by any instinct doctrine. Emotions must be attached to specific events, 
and expectancies must be built up. This is essentially a learning process. 
To speak of gregarious and competitive and maternal instincts under 
these circumstances is really meaningless, since an instinct by definition 
derives directly from inherited processes. 

It is also clear that human motivation does not fit any paradigm for 

74 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

rationality. People often behave in ways that seem senseless and unneces- 
sarily detrimental to their interests. Symptoms of an emotional nature are 
particularly likely to be irrational in this sense. In many areas of life the 
prospects of immediate satisfaction often serve to overwhelm long-term 
goals. Much of the response to advertising, for instance, can only be ac- 
counted for in terms of emotional reactions of this type. Studies indicate 
that many people are attracted to advertising material dealing with com- 
plex technical subjects (such as chemical ingredients and mechanical 
processes ) after they have already made the decision to buy the product. 
Apparently they need a logical explanation for their behavior and hope 
that reading the advertisements will provide it (74) . 

This caution regarding the potential irrationality of human motiva- 
tion is particularly relevant when it comes to behavior in response to 
monetary incentives. For purposes of theory construction, economists 
have developed the concept of economic man — completely informed, 
infinitely sensitive, entirely rational in his decisions (63). Such a man is 
assumed to consistently make choices which will maximize expected util- 
ity for him. In the management of performance this has often been taken 
to mean that subordinates will consistently make choices calculated to 
maximize monetary income and will be motivated in proportion to the 
expected financial reward. Although the concept of economic man may 
provide an adequate basis for predicting behavior on many occasions, the 
model is no more universally valid than the concept employed in our 
legal system of a reasonable and prudent man. There is a wealth of evi- 
dence indicating that people will not always make decisions calculated to 
maximize financial return (89). Many people who have reached the top 
salary bracket for their jobs and who have no hope of promotion continue 
to work just as hard as they did when merit increases were still available 
to them. Others are apparently unwilling to exert themselves no matter 
how much money is offered. 

Just as much human motivation deviates from rationality, so it is also 
on occasion inaccessible to consciousness. Many things are said and done 
from motives which are completely unknown to the person himself. We 
often act almost automatically with no idea why. Sometimes we feel that 
we ought not to engage in certain activities but nevertheless experience 
what amounts to a compulsion to go ahead anyhow. After the fact we 
may devote considerable time and effort to developing logical explana- 
tions for this behavior. 

In such cases where it is impossible to gain an awareness of the true 
motives behind our actions, it is safe to assume that a process of repres- 
sion has operated to ward off unpleasant emotions. The chain of events 
appears to be somewhat as follows. Through our experiences in the 
process of developing to maturity, pleasant emotional reactions become 

Individual Motivation to Work 75 

attached to certain acts and events. Anticipations are created and a mo- 
tive is formed. Many such motives, especially those of a sexual or ag- 
gressive nature, may, however, subsequently prove to have negative im- 
plications. We learn that certain words and acts are socially taboo, that 
our motives are unacceptable to others. Giving them expression may re- 
sult in considerable anxiety and embarrassment. The solution most readily 
adopted under these circumstances is to eliminate the original motive 
from consciousness, to repress it so that the anxiety produced by thoughts 
or behavior associated with it need no longer be experienced. 

Over time, this process results in the accumulation of a large number of 
unconscious motives or impulses, which may break through the barriers 
we have erected against them and determine our behavior. Yet the mo- 
tives underlying the behavior remain inaccessible to us. If it were other- 
wise, we might have to face things in ourselves which we would consider, 
at the very least, quite unpleasant. As it is, we are able in a sense to have 
our cake and eat it too. We gain the satisfaction of expressing certain im- 
pulses and wishes while at the same time minimizing, at least under op- 
timal circumstances, the anxious feelings which have become associated 
with them. 

Unconscious motives of this kind are often behind a great variety of 
errors such as slips of the tongue, misreading, slips of the pen, failure to 
hear correctly, forgetting of names and intentions, mislaying things, 
breaking objects "accidentally," etc. ( 65 ) . They are particularly likely to 
emerge when we are tired or somewhat emotionally upset. Much ineflFec- 
tive performance is caused in this way. It does little good in such cases to 
ask a man why he lost an important paper or broke an expensive machine 
or miscalculated a bill being sent to a customer. He will frequently offer a 
reason, usually one minimizing his own accountability, but it will rarely 
be the correct one. In actual fact he does not know why; yet his own mo- 
tives are clearly responsible. 

Such errors can easily be produced under hypnosis ( 64 ) . A man can be 
told while hypnotized that he detests another individual, but is too cour- 
teous a person to give his animosity expression. If the hypnosis is then 
lifted and all memory of the suggestion removed, the man will almost in- 
variably express his aggression through various errors and slips of the 
tongue (calling the training director a paining director, for instance). 
If these slips are brought to his attention and their implications noted, 
the man will express as much consternation as would any of us caught in 
similar errors. He is clearly not aware that his behavior derives from mo- 
tives implanted by the hypnotist. In fact, he is quick to deny any aggres- 
sive motives at all. 

There is reason to believe that unconscious motives also exert consider- 
able influence on the choice of an occupation (85). Many people uncon- 

76 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

sciously choose work which will provide them with an outlet for repressed 
impulses. Others take up activities which will help support a conviction 
that such impulses do not exist. As might be expected, defensive behavior 
of the latter kind is not hkely to be directed by motives of which the in- 
dividual would want to be aware. In one study, for instance, projective 
personahty tests were administered to a number of young men who de- 
voted much of their time to weight Hfting (66). The tests provided rather 
convincing evidence that for many of the men the weight training and 
resultant development of physique served to help ward off unconscious 
feelings of masculine inadequacy and inferiority. These men devoted con- 
siderable effort to establishing their maleness, yet they did not appear to 
be strongly attracted to women and tended to prefer male company. Un- 
consciously, at least, they believed other people must be very critical of 
them, and they considered themselves incapable of handling their prob- 
lems without help from some external source. They needed strength and 
sought it in the lifting of weights. 

Fear of Failure and Pleasure in Success 

Although an abstract, skeletal description of the relationship between 
motivation and performance might seem appropriate here, such an ap- 
proach has the disadvantage that it lacks the meat of reality. Unfortu- 
nately also, abstract discussions tend to stay at that level; they rarely seem 
to contribute as much as they should to the solution of practical prob- 
lems. Consequently this section will forego the more orderly approach 
and delve directly into a specific motive-performance relationship. The 
role that motives associated with success and failure play in work per- 
formance will be the starting point, in part because of the large body of 
research that has been conducted in this area, in part because this type of 
motivation is one of the most important. 

In a study mentioned in Chapter 1 (70), accountants and engineers 
employed by nine large concerns in the Pittsburgh area were asked to 
describe occasions when they had felt exceptionally good and exception- 
ally bad about their jobs. From an analysis of these stories it was pos- 
sible to determine what factors most frequently contributed to pleasure at 
work. Achievement — the successful completion of a job — was by far the 
most prevalent. Some type of personal recognition or praise came next. 
The opportunity to carry out interesting, creative, challenging, or varied 
work was the third. Being permitted to exercise responsibility for one's 
own work or that of others was fourth, and promotion was fifth. These 
five were the major sources of satisfaction noted in the stories. Three are 
clearly criteria of personal success on the job: achievement, recognition, 
and promotion. The opportunity to carry out interesting rather than rou- 

Individual Motivation to Work 77 

tine activities and to exercise responsibility or autonomy may well have 
similar meaning for a number of people, since higher-level positions usu- 
ally possess these characteristics to a greater degree. In any event these 
men were clearly saying that the attainment of success in one form or an- 
other was the major source of pleasure that they saw as available in the 
work situation. 

The primary sources of dissatisfaction, on the other hand, were not per- 
sonal but external. The stories involved instances where the man had been 
a victim of inadequate company organization and management, where 
he had suflFered as a result of malevolent personnel policies, or where he 
had been exposed to incompetent supervision. Although the elimination 
of these external deficiencies in organizational and managerial action 
would, no doubt, have reduced the amount of unhappiness associated 
with the events described, one cannot help wondering whether a number 
of personal failures were not also involved. Could it be that many of these 
men were describing occasions when they came very close to experienc- 
ing a sense of failure and when they were able to avoid the resultant anx- 
iety only by shifting the blame to another source? The study does not tell 
us. The results are certainly consistent with the view that failure is a ma- 
jor source of fear and distress in the world of work. Rarely does a man 
admit that he feels bad because of his own incompetent job performance: 
This usually happens only when he is somewhat depressed and overcome 
with guilt. Much more frequently, part of the blame, at least, is placed on 
someone or something else. 

Additional evidence for the primacy of fear of failure and pleasure in 
success as motivating forces in the business world derives from an un- 
likely source, a survey devised to determine what types of articles pub- 
lished in a company magazine were most widely read (83). The major 
finding of the study, which was carried out in the Atlantic Refining Com- 
pany, was that articles dealing with the company's economic position, 
organization, products, equipment, methods, services, and advantages as 
a place of employment were much more widely read than those having 
little to do with the operation of the firm. A closer look at these company- 
oriented articles reveals an interesting fact. Some of these widely read 
items deal with personal success ( list of promotions ) . Others describe the 
success of the company ( an article about some new products and the in- 
crease in sales they produced). Still others refer to company programs 
and procedures designed to protect employees against the experience of 
personal failure ( an item on the stability of the company retirement sys- 
tem and another listing service anniversaries for a sizable number of em- 
ployees who had been with the company for many years). In contrast, 
readership was relatively low for articles unrelated to occupational or 
economic success and failure ( a list of recipes, an article on stamp collect- 

78 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ing, etc. ) . It appears that the motivating effects of success and failure are 
not restricted to engineers and accountants. They are spread throughout 
the organization. Ninety percent of the Atlantic Refining Company em- 
ployees, for instance, read about such things as promotions. 

Ambition — the anticipation of a pleasurable emotional experience as- 
sociated with the attainment of some criterion of success — is without 
question a major source of motivation at work. It is likely to contribute 
to effective work performance as long as events serve to reinforce a man's 
expectation of achievement. That is, it benefits performance as long as 
some degree of success is experienced. Several studies indicate that ob- 
jectively successful people in business are, in fact, characterized by 
a greater amount of ambition (75). Successful managers selected for the 
Middle Management Program at the Harvard Business School and for 
the Sloane Fellow Program at M.I.T. scored well above a cross section of 
American college graduates on measures of ambition. A group of Turk- 
ish business leaders had an average score considerably above junior man- 
agers in that country. Within groups of Polish and Italian business man- 
agers, those with higher-level, more responsible positions gave evidence 
of greater ambition. As some might expect, ambition is more likely to be 
at high levels among sales and marketing managers than in other man- 
agerial groups. 

However, where the individual's level of ability, or the nature of the 
job or the organization, or the actions of superiors serve to remove the 
possibility of experiencing success, ambition is not likely to contribute to 
effective performance. In fact, under these circumstances where challenge 
is lacking or ambition frustrated, anticipation of pleasure in success can 
only be a detriment and may contribute to failure. It may also result in 
the individual deciding very quickly to seek employment elsewhere. An 
analysis of turnover figures in one company revealed that men hired with 
a graduate degree (masters or doctoral) rarely remained for more than a 
few years. 

Another study involved over twenty-five hundred skilled female 
workers in company locations distributed throughout the United States 
( 87 ) . They were given a special questionnaire which sought to determine 
what motives — what sources of anticipated happiness — were most fre- 
quently frustrated on the job. Four months later these people were fol- 
lowed up and the questionnaires of those who had resigned in the interval 
compared with those of the women who were still employed. The former 
group was found to contain a disproportionate number who were dis- 
satisfied about the recognition given them for the quality of their work, 
about the extent to which they felt their jobs were important, about the 
degree of autonomy and freedom to work on their own, and about the 
fairness of the standards used to judge their work. In other words, those 

Individual Motivation to Work 79 

who had separated were largely people who had not been experiencing a 
sufficient feeling of success in their jobs. To what extent this resulted from 
their own behavior, the actions of their supervisors, or the nature of the 
work, we do not know. 

Turnover is not the only way in which frustration of success may mani- 
fest itself. There are many alternative reactions, most of which con- 
tribute to ineffective performance in some way. A person may give up his 
attempts to attain satisfaction of his desires on the job. He may stop exert- 
ing himself almost entirely while assuming a "What's the use?" attitude. 
He may carry out many job duties slowly and in a disinterested manner 
if at all. Work provides no "kick," and so he does not try. Or on the other 
hand, strong emotional reactions may be aroused. The man may accuse 
others of blocking the development of his genius. He may condemn the 
company. His work will suffer not so much because of inadequate effort 
as because of the disruptive emotions aroused by the blocking of a strong 
drive. Under these conditions of frustration the man may become a real 
troublemaker, exerting a strong negative influence on the performance of 

Another type of response involves an important concept which Has not 
yet been discussed. We have assumed that people often enter employment 
with an expectation of attaining certain feelings of happiness which they 
have associated with their particular concept of success. We have assumed 
further that they will attempt to attain this success through activities 
which contribute to effective performance. Unfortunately, this last assump- 
tion is totally unwarranted. A man may enter a position having already 
developed techniques for achieving success which are sharply at variance 
with job requirements. His behavior in pursuit of success and its associ- 
ated pleasure may, therefore, either conflict directly with work demands 
or leave insufficient time for effective performance. 

For example, a man may engage in "moonlighting" activity outside 
work which provides him with a real sense of accomplishment, but which 
leaves him too tired or with insufficient time to perform adequately in his 
job. Or he may devote his energies to attaining success through "political" 
activity within the company, spending so much time making friends and 
influencing people that his actual work suffers. He may bypass merit and 
promotional increases as a means of accumulating wealth and employ 
company facilities or his time on the job (perhaps even company cash 
reserves ) in an attempt to gain personal financial success through a more 
entrepreneurial type of activity. He may even attempt to satisfy his de- 
sires through fantasies and daydreams of success, to the point where nor- 
mal work is severely disrupted. In all these instances integration between 
the expected means of attaining success and job demands is totally lack- 

80 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Lack of integration between behavior and job may, then, be a re- 
sponse to the frustration of more integrated attempts to attain success. 
Instead of quitting, losing interest, or reacting with intense emotion 
when efforts to achieve are persistently denied, a person may seek other 
channels through which to attain his goals and thus become increasingly 
ineffective as his behavior departs further and further from that which 
the job requires. 

An additional source of complexity is that the standards which people 
use to define success are their own. They determine what level of accom- 
plishment, what types of reward, will suffice. This is not to say that exter- 
nal standards are devoid of influence. It may be generally understood 
in a company that a man "on the way up" should achieve a certain grade 
level by a specified age, or that a satisfactory performer in a given job 
should have attained a certain pay rate after being employed for a spe- 
cific period of time. Standards of this kind are often internalized by indi- 
vidual employees and serve to influence their personal expectations. Nev- 
ertheless, people also take their own capacities as they see them into 
account. Many students are quite satisfied with a C average. Others will 
settle for nothing but an A. Studies indicate that satisfaction with pay 
rates is clearly conditioned by the specific individuals whom an em- 
ployee compares himself with and by how he expects to stand relative 
to such people ( 84 ) . 

As might be expected, these standards do influence the level of per- 
formance. The relationship is nicely demonstrated by some research con- 
ducted in a British textile mill (68). Employees were asked to carry out 
a linking operation, a task having relatively high prestige. At the same 
time they were asked to make various estimates of the time to complete 
the task. When these estimates were compared with actual proficiency 
on the job, it was found that both those who drastically underestimated 
their own ability and those who set excessively high standards were 
much poorer workers than those who were more realistic in their expecta- 

If an individual defines success in terms of very low standards, he will 
experience satisfaction at a low level and will have no reason to improve. 
Such a person may be entirely satisfied with his own work even though 
he performs at a level sufiiciently low to be considered ineffective. On 
the other hand, a man may set standards so high that he will constantly 
fail to reach them even though he performs at a satisfactory level by nor- 
mal standards. His continued personal failures and the resulting disap- 
pointment will eventually produce a degree of frustration sufficient to 
elicit strong emotional responses, loss of interest in work, or uninte- 
grated behavior. At this point performance will begin to fall off and may 

Individual Motivation to Work 81 

eventually become inejffective, even though the standards remain unal- 

As a summary it may be helpful to have a more condensed statement 
of the relationship between intense ambition and ineflFective perform- 
ance. First, a man may begin to perform ineffectively if his job-integrated 
strivings toward success consistently meet with frustration, and he is 
therefore continually deprived of what he desires. Under such circum- 
stances it makes no real difference whether his personal standards of suc- 
cess are high or low, although excessively high standards will almost 
ensure frustration and thus eventual failure. 

Second, a man may perform ineffectively if he employs techniques 
for achieving his concept of success which are not integrated with the 
requirements of the job. It does not matter whether his standards are 
high or low or whether he does or does not achieve success in his own 
terms; his performance is ineffective in any event. 

Third, a man may perform ineffectively by external standards even 
though he uses job-integrated means to success and actually succeeds by 
his own standards. For if his standards are too low and his performance 
does not rise above them, he is nevertheless considered ineffective by his 
superiors. A handicapped worker, for instance, might establish low stand- 
ards for himself and take pride in the extent to which he had overcome 
his difficulties, but he might still fall well below acceptable managerial 

To turn from the desire for success to the fear of failure, and thus 
from positive to negative motivation, fear of failure interacts with per- 
formance in a manner similar to that of pleasure in success. It has been 
found frequently among successful managers and executives (69, 91), 
and there is every reason to believe that it is a major factor contributing 
to their achievements. In attempting to avoid anxiety associated with 
events that they consider indicative of failure, they in fact achieve con- 
siderable success. For this to happen a man must, of course, avoid failure 
through the use of job-integrated means, and he must have established 
very high, although still entirely realistic, standards of failure for himself. 
In school such a person might, for instance, feel distressed if he were to 
receive a grade of C. In the business world the possibility that one among 
some twenty or thirty reports prepared during the year might elicit a 
mild criticism from his boss would be quite upsetting. As might be ex- 
pected, such people, although often extremely successful by any external 
objective criterion, are not likely to experience much happiness. They 
gain little satisfaction from their work; it is sufficient that they have once 
again escaped the gaping jaws of calamity. 

Ineffective performance can occur in such a man if events should 

82 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

transpire so that he consistently produces work which is below his stand- 
ards. He is hkely to experience intense anxiety or guilt which is in turn 
disruptive of performance. The actual level of the standards matters 
little, of course, in instances of this kind. Unsuccessful efforts to avoid 
failure may also produce reactions other than the strictly emotional. A 
man may give up, decide to suffer the distress and unpleasantness of 
failure, and in the end find that things are not as bad as anticipated. 
Since his expectations regarding the emotional impact of failure are not 
entirely borne out, his standards slip to a lower level, perhaps disap- 
pearing entirely. This is not uncommon among the long-term unem- 
ployed. A type of relearning occurs, and failure is accepted as a fact 
of life. 

Ineffective performance can also result when the means chosen to 
avoid failure are not integrated with job demands. As was the case 
with ambition, unintegrated behavior may be brought to the employ- 
ment situation as an established pattern, or the pattern may be created 
on the job because of the inadequacy of integrated approaches. The pos- 
sible forms of such a pattern are of course myriad. They include many 
symptoms of emotional illness. They also include, as one of the common- 
est patterns of unintegrated behavior, avoidance of the work situation 
with its aura of criticism and punishment. People who adopt this pattern 
are likely to be absent frequently and to complain of numerous illnesses 
or other circumstances which make it inappropriate to hold them to 
adequate performance standards. Some people will invoke almost any 
kind of excuse in order to convince themselves and others that standards 
of work effectiveness are not really applicable to them. Thus since they 
cannot be evaluated, they cannot fail. Frequently the blame will be 
shifted to some external event or person. "It's not my fault this thing 
didn't work out, he (or the company, or my wife, or the market) is to 
blame. . . ." 

Another source of ineffectiveness arising out of a lack of integration 
between the procedures used to avoid failure and job demands is very 
common among sales managers (67). Many devote their energies almost 
entirely to actual selling in spite of the fact that such matters are sup- 
posed to be left to their salesmen. As a result, managerial activities are 
severely neglected. Although behavior of this kind can derive from sev- 
eral types of motivation, many of these people are attempting to avoid 
failure by doing everything themselves and thus assuring themselves diat 
things are done right. Unfortunately they overestimate their capacities 
and find out too late, if at all, that they cannot do the work of five or ten 
other men in addition to their own. This type of behavior is not unlike 
that of people who have developed techniques for avoiding failure 

Individual Motivation to Work 83 

which involve a minute attention to detail and accuracy. Although such 
perfectionism may represent a thoroughly integrated approach in some 
jobs, there are other instances where the time consumed in constant re- 
checking is so great that an adequate amount of work cannot be com- 

It is somewhat discouraging to note further that people whose domi- 
nant motive in work is a fear of failure are especially likely to make un- 
realistic vocational choices (73). They of all people are the most prone 
to select jobs in which, because of their particular pattern of abilities, 
they are very likely to fail. Apparently their wish to avoid failure leads 
many to avoid any kind of vocational guidance or information. This 
might be considered an unintegrated approach to occupational choice. 
In any event, the man who fears failure the most is particularly likely to 
face it. 

A final case of ineflFective performance is that where a man does actu- 
ally avoid the experience of failure through job-integrated behavior, but 
only because his personal standards for failure are very lenient. Such a 
man wdll not appear very happy about his work, but neither will he ap- 
pear particularly anxious. In fact, he may be a rather difficult person to 
deal with, since he will be convinced of the adequacy of his performance 
and may consider the demands of his superior excessive. 

Other Motives Affecting Performance 

Although motives involving success and failure are particularly likely 
to assume a dominant position on the job, there are many others which 
may also contribute to ineffective performance. In fact, almost any mo- 
tive which can be manifested at work may be strategic for failure, either 
because the means to its attainment are not integrated with job de- 
mands or because its satisfaction is blocked. Probably those of a nega- 
tive nature outnumber the positive. The variety of factors in the work 
situation which may provoke anxiety, guilt, shame, or some other dis- 
tressing emotional state is almost infinite. When feelings of this kind 
are persistently activated, they are very likely to have a detrimental ef- 
fect on performance unless some more dominant motive serves to coun- 
teract them. 

A sizable body of evidence indicates that people who are distressed or 
dissatisfied because of work factors will frequently seek to avoid the 
sources of their displeasure through absenteeism and job changes (60, 
71). Fear of failure is not the only negative motive which has contrib- 
uted to these findings. In fact, fear of failure is actually much more likely 
than other types of negative motivation to result in job-integrated be- 

84 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

havior. A great many sources of anxiety and distress cannot be avoided 
through integrated activity but only through some action that interferes 
with work. 

There are, of course, other unintegrated responses in addition to ab- 
senteeism and turnover which may appear when disturbing factors at 
work result in the formation of dominant negative motives. Avoidance 
may occur within the work situation itself — absence from the workplace, 
dispensary visits, refusal to perform certain job duties, etc. All of these 
responses may, if carried to the extreme, have a sizable eflFect on the 
amount of work accomphshed or on its quahty. In a study of factors 
contributing to performance failure among petroleum company sales- 
men, one characteristic which appeared frequently was a distaste for 
interaction with other people (46). On the job these men tended to 
avoid social contacts whenever possible, and such conversation as they 
did engage in was likely to be stilted and short-lived. Their shyness made 
it impossible for them to get close to other people, and as a result sales 
in their territories suffered. Similar types of avoidance can occur in 
nearly all jobs. 

Positive motives may have equally detrimental effects, and again the 
possible routes are numerous. In the writer's experience there are, in addi- 
tion to pleasure in success, four positive motives which are particularly 
likely to be strategic for performance failure when they have assumed a 
position of dominance. One of these is pleasure in dominating and 
controlling other people, a motive frequent among men in managerial 
positions (78). In all probability it often contributes to the seeking of a 
career in business management, particularly in line departments, and 
to successful performance in many such jobs. But a desire to dominate 
others can also lead to failure. Frustration of the desire may occur, even 
in line management. Union or subordinate reactions to authoritarian 
control can, on occasion, block the attainment of such control. People 
may just refuse to be dominated. 

Frustration is most likely to occur, however, when the man with a de- 
sire to dominate is in some kind of staff work or in a subordinate posi- 
tion where authority to direct others has not been allocated and where 
people's acceptance of direction, if the man initiates it on a unilateral 
basis, is likely to be minimal. The man may then exhibit one of the 
usual reactions to frustration — emotional outbreaks, loss of interest in 
work, unintegrated behavior. The last often takes the form of persist- 
ent attempts to control the behavior of others in all kinds of situations. 
The other people become angry because they resent being pushed 
around, the man devotes most of his time to thinking up ways to get oth- 
ers to do what he wants, and performance suffers all around. Often the 
attempts to control extend well beyond the workplace itself. Unlike mo- 

Individual Motivation to Work 85 

tives involving success and failure, the desire to dominate others may 
not be satisfiable on an integrated basis within the confines of a particu- 
lar job. There are many positions which contain neither supervisory re- 
sponsibilities nor an opportunity to exercise the power inherent in spe- 
cialized knowledge. The only integrated approach possible in such situa- 
tions may be for the man to direct his energies toward qualifying for 
another position in which he can achieve the type of satisfaction he de- 

A second positive motive which may become strategic involves the 
anticipation of pleasure at being made to feel accepted and liked by 
other people at work. The man wants above everything else to be pop- 
ular. Where this desire is frustrated, due either to characteristics of the 
man himself or to the actions of others, the usual reactions may occur. 
There are people for whom the whole work environment becomes a 
meaningless and empty shell if they cannot obtain frequent indications 
of popularity there. The strategies employed to secure these indications 
may vary tremendously. Many are entirely integrated: The person carries 
out certain job duties and in the process achieves a sense of acceptance. 
This need not be the case, however. Attempts to achieve a feeling of pop- 
ularity by disruptive, attention-getting behavior are not uncommon. Any- 
thing that provokes attention from the group may contribute to a feeling 
of acceptance. In managerial work an intense wish to be liked by others 
can result in abdication of responsibility and an inability to issue any- 
thing approaching an order to subordinates. The manager's desire for 
popularity with his men predominates over any wish to fulfill the de- 
mands of his job, should the two motives come in conflict. This and 
related situations will be treated in much greater detail in Chapter 7. 

We have discussed the cases of the man who desires to dominate oth- 
ers and of the man who wants to be liked. A third possible motive is so- 
cial interaction, which may be sought for its own sake. A man may wish 
above almost anything else to be with others, to talk to them, and to 
participate in social activities, whether work-related or not. Preference 
may be primarily for the opposite sex, for the same sex, or for both; for 
small groups, for large groups, or for a single other person. Activities di- 
rected to this goal may be thoroughly integrated with the job: As noted 
previously, sales work is facilitated by this kind of motivation. Studies 
also suggest that the average manager spends approximately three-quar- 
ters of his time in meetings or other kinds of social interaction and con- 
versation ( 62 ) . There are jobs, however, where satisfaction of social mo- 
tives cannot be achieved. For example, a man may have to remain alone 
for long periods of time if he is to carry out his job duties. Or he may be 
deprived of the specific kinds of relationships with people that are impor- 
tant to him. 

86 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Some people can su£Fer this kind of deprivation without undue nega- 
tive results, presumably because other motives outweigh those of a 
purely social nature. Others are completely unable to perform effectively. 
Unintegrated responses characteristically take the form of ignoring job 
demands in order to seek the interaction with other people that is de- 
sired. The techniques are many; the experienced manager will be famil- 
iar with most of them. A machine operator may spend considerable time 
wandering around the shop talking to people and neglecting his own 
work. Or coffee breaks and lunch hours may be extended. Frustration of 
social motives is a common source of difficulty, especially among female 
clerical workers. Anyone who directs the work of employees who must 
spend long periods of time without talking to others should be sensitive 
to the problem. Mere physical closeness to other people is usually not 
sufficient to satisfy this kind of motivation. If conversation is not pos- 
sible, the presence of others may serve only as a source of distraction. 

A fourth positive motive, the desire for assistance and attention from 
superiors, is probably as common a cause of performance failure as any 
noted in this section. A number of studies indicate that it is a strong 
motive among managers at all levels ( 14, 86 ) . They gain a feeling of hap- 
piness from being accepted by their superiors, and they enjoy the oppor- 
tunity to get help with their problems — to go up the line for direction. 
Such a desire can be fully integrated with job requirements. In attempt- 
ing to satisfy this motive a manager may become a hard and willing 
worker. He may form a smooth working relationship with his supe- 
riors, perceiving their wishes almost before they are aware of them. 

But on occasion, things do not turn out that way. The superiors do 
not, or cannot, respond to such job-integrated efforts. The man becomes 
angry and upset, or loses momentum, or turns to unintegrated methods 
of getting what he wants. These may take many forms. Often he resorts 
to behavior which leads his boss to consider him a "pest." He constantly 
demands assistance, instruction, praise, and attention. He takes up so 
much of the time of those at higher levels that their work, as well as his 
own, is disrupted. Once he gets into the boss's office, it is almost impos- 
sible to get him out. Or he may contrive to get into difficulty in his 
work or with fellow employees so that supervisory attention is constantly 
required. He may become something of a show-off, at least when there 
is any possibility of gaining the attention of his boss. This is not, of 
course, a problem unique to the ranks of management. People at any 
level can develop a strong desire to lean on others whom they consider 
stronger and more powerful than themselves. And when such wishes 
for assistance and attention exist, a man in any type of position may try 
to satisfy them in ways which decrease the quantity and quality of his 
own work as well as that of others. 

Individual Motivation to Work 87 

There are, of course, many more types of positive motives which may 
contribute to inefiFective performance: an interest in solving new and 
stimulating problems, a wish to engage in phantasy and daydreaming, 
a need for constant changes of environment, a drive to incessant activity, 
a desire to take risks, a favorable attitude toward any work which re- 
quires only minimal physical activity. All may be frustrated on the job 
for a variety of reasons and may as a consequence result in emotions and 
behavior which contribute to failure. All may be satisfied through either 
integrated or unintegrated behavior, although both possibilities may 
not exist within the same job. 

Work Motivation — General and Specific 

Sometimes it is helpful to have a summary statement indicating the 
net effect of all the various motives which may contribute to a man's 
work performance. This is what the concept of work motivation pro- 
vides. Such a concept makes it possible to ignore the specific motives in- 
volved and look at the end result only — to designate the general level of 
motivation contributing to the effectiveness of a man's performance 
without being concerned about the individual motives themselves. A 
man is lacking in this work motivation when he has few, if any, positive 
dominant motives which he believes he can satisfy through work-inte- 
grated activity and when in addition the anticipation of fear or some 
other unpleasant emotion does not lead him into integrated effort. He 
may, of course, also be considered unmotivated if his standards are so 
low that little exertion is required to achieve his goal. In such cases the 
pleasure of success is achieved or distress avoided so easily that it hardly 
seems to require any motivation at all. 

To complete this picture it is necessary to mention the case where a 
man not only seems totally uninterested in his work, but by his behavior 
appears actually to desire failure. Such motives do exist, usually on an 
unconscious level. Any man who deliberately sets out to fail in his work 
is likely to be considered irresponsible, at best, in our society, and so he 
usually protects himself from recognizing that he has such a motive by re- 
sorting to repression. Nevertheless, school children often fail to do satis- 
factory work in order to get even with their parents for real or imag- 
ined wrongs. And guilt-ridden people deliberately make a mess of their 
lives in order to punish themselves, sometimes going so far as to confess 
to crimes they did not commit. In the business world people can attain 
the satisfaction of strong motives such as this by getting themselves fired 
or by achieving the status of known failures. Such people are generally 
grouped with others who are said to be lacking in work motivation, al- 
though they might more appropriately be described as taking pleasure 

88 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

in failure. As will be indicated in Chapter 11, there are times when 
fear of success is not too unusual, either. 

The term work motivation has also been employed in a somewhat 
narrower manner to summarize the eflFects of the particular motives 
which contribute to industriousness or perseverance. It is in this sense 
that the phrase is most widely used by social science researchers. When 
employed in this way, it does not cover all possible motives that may 
contribute to effective performance, but only a limited group. For in- 
stance, the study of petroleum salesmen ( 46 ) indicated that a tendency 
to seek out and enjoy social interaction with other people was a frequent 
positive motive contributing to success. But an intense work drive, a will- 
ingness to persist in routine work and to put in many hours on the job, 
was not of equal value in this job. In fact, there was no evidence of any 
relationship between the degree of industriousness and the effective- 
ness of performance. In a sense, the successful salesman did exhibit 
strong work motivation — the kind of motivation, such as the wish to be 
with other people, which contributed to effective performance when he 
satisfied it through job-integrated means. When the narrower definition 
involving only industriousness was applied to him, however, the better 
salesman cannot be said to have had a high level of work motivation at 

Yet in other types of work — perhaps in most — industriousness is cru- 
cial. For example, a lack of work motivation as it is narrowly defined has 
been found to be a major cause of performance failure among office tabu- 
lating machine operators (81, 82). Presumably the same is true with 
many other jobs of a similarly routine nature. 

Whichever definition of work motivation is employed, it is common 
practice to distinguish between general and specific types of motivation. 
Thus the man who is failing because of low motivation in a specific job 
might or might not react in a similar manner if placed in some other type 
of work. If he has what is termed general low work motivation, then there 
is no other job he might hold in which he would demonstrate higher 
motivation. Whether this is the case or not can only be determined from 
his employment record. If he has had a number of almost identical fail- 
ures in a variety of different positions, then it is relatively safe to assume 
that the motivational deficiency is general. This can, of course, never be 
proved conclusively; there might always be some job that would interest 
him. If, on the other hand, he has had other jobs in which failure attrib- 
utable to motivational causes did not occur, and these differed in some 
respect from his present job, then there is reason to believe that the mo- 
tivational difficulty is specific. This distinction between the general and 
the specific is important because of its implications for remedial action. 

Individual Motivation to Work 89 

Nevertheless, where the work history is sparse it is very difficult to make 
this distinction with any feeling of certainty. 

Specific work motivation is often identified in terms of areas of interest 
rather than by reference to individual motives. Thus among 464 men 
studied in connection v^th the Atlantic Refining Company's manage- 
ment appraisal program strong specific motivation was found to be 
present in areas such as computation and working with figures, scientific 
matters, persuasion and selling, literature and reading, and supervising 
others. On the other hand, these managers did not show strong positive 
motivation with regard to outdoor and agricultural work, mechanical 
activities, and clerical tasks ( 80 ) . 

The same study attempted to determine the average level of motiva- 
tion in certain specific areas for managers of dijfferent types. In particular, 
men responsible for various research activities were contrasted with the 
heads of major units other than those engaged in research. Most in this 
second group were line managers, but some headed large staff groups. 
The research managers were very much interested in scientific activities, 
as might be expected. They gave no evidence of particular motivation 
in the area of selling and persuading and were definitely lacking in any 
desire to supervise others. The nonresearch managers, on the other hand, 
were strongly motivated to persuade and supervise others but did not 
have marked interests in the scientific area. In this same study it was 
found that while supervisory and persuasive interests tended in general 
to contribute to managerial success, strong positive motivation with re- 
gard to scientific pursuits was characteristically detrimental. As might be 
expected, therefore, the research men were rated well below the other 
administrators on the management appraisals. Presumably, since they 
were more oriented toward scientific matters than managing, they em- 
ployed unintegrated means in their efforts to gain success. They appar- 
ently sought recognition as scientists rather than as managers and thus 
emphasized one segment of the job to the exclusion of others. 

A correlation of this kind between performance effectiveness and the 
level of work motivation in special areas is more common in positions to- 
ward the top of the occupational ladder. Unskilled and semiskilled 
workers are not as likely to fail in their jobs because they lack the appro- 
priate interest patterns as are skilled, professional, and managerial work- 
ers. It seems probable that the major difference between high- and low- 
level jobs lies in the importance of positive motivation generally. Fear of 
failure, quite irrespective of the specific kind of work in which it may 
occur, would seem to be somewhat more important as a motivating fac- 
tor in jobs at a lower level. At that level many men may have few strong 
positive motives which they are able to satisfy through their jobs, but 

90 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

they may nevertheless perform adequately because the threat of failure 
is very real. They may see no prospect of getting into something more 
enjoyable, and they may be anxious to keep what they have rather than 
go w^ithout any work or move to something similar or worse, with less 
seniority. At the higher levels more men would be likely to permit their 
eflFectiveness to decline upon finding that their dominant motives were 
being frustrated in a given type of work. Their chances of shifting even- 
tually to something more in line with their interests are considerably 
better. Fear of failure has much less motivational impact when the man 
anticipates that he can change relatively easily into something more to 
his liking. 

The importance that specific work motivation can have is neatly illus- 
trated in a study carried out by the Life Insurance Agency Management 
Association (92). A special booklet describing in detail the actual duties 
of Life agents and the time normally devoted to various activities was 
prepared. The booklet was so constituted that it should give a prospec- 
tive employee a good idea as to whether he could gain satisfaction for his 
dominant motives while selling insurance. It was distributed to all appli- 
cants for jobs in forty-three districts of one company and was not given 
to applicants in forty-eight other districts. These two groups of districts 
were very similar in a number of respects. The turnover rates were identi- 
cal before the study and for all but new hires during the time of the re- 
search. In a six-month period 226 agents were hired who had been given 
the booklet covering what to expect in the job, and 248 were hired who 
had not been provided with the booklet. At the end of this period, 67 of 
the latter had already terminated employment — 27 percent. Among those 
to whom the booklet had been distributed, only 43 (19 percent) termi- 
nated in the same period. Thus, a reduction in turnover amounting to 
approximately 30 percent was achieved by permitting prospective appli- 
cants who did not have appropriate specific interests in selling insurance 
to employ extensive and valid information to "select themselves out" 
without the necessity of actually undergoing frustration of their motives 
and/or failing on the job before leaving. 

Dealing with Motivational Problems 

The initial managerial task in carrying out a performance analysis, 
where it is suspected that a motivational factor may be strategic, is to 
establish what motives are dominant. This is not always easily accom- 
plished. It can be done by observing a man's behavior and listening to 
what he says. What does he want? What is he after? These are the crucial 
questions. Asking him will be of limited value. Some strong motives may 
be unconscious; others of a kind which are unlikely to be disclosed to a 

Individual Motivation to Work 91 

superior. Projective techniques can be of considerable help in establish- 
ing the hierarchy of motives, but they require the services of a person 
with appropriate professional training, usually a psychologist. Where 
such assistance is available, management can benefit by using it. Readers 
who are interested in seeing examples of how a projective measure may 
be employed in studying work-related motivation should consult the 
book PAT Interpretation — Scope and Technique (88). The cases dis- 
cussed include an industrial chemist who was performing rather poorly 
as head of a research laboratory, a successful management consultant, 
an efficient secretary, a small businessman who was doing a mediocre 
job of running the family business, an outstanding young company pres- 
ident, and an Army private whose prior industrial work history had been 
very unstable. Besides projective techniques such as the PAT, the various 
interest measures may also be helpful in determining an individual's 
motivational hierarchy, although they have the disadvantage that they 
do not identify specific motives but only the general level of motivation 
in certain areas. 

There has been some tendency to assume that either economic mo- 
tivation or fear of failure will always be dominant in an employee and 
thus to handle ineffective performance by offering the opportunity to 
earn more money or by threatening severe punishment. It would be en- 
tirely unrealistic to conclude that these approaches have not achieved a 
degree of success. But they have failed many times, too. Fear of certain 
features of the work situation, a desire to dominate, the wish to be pop- 
ular, strong social needs, dependence on those at higher levels, and many 
other motives can be more important to a person. Furthermore, the de- 
gree to which his behavior is job-integrated and the level at which his 
standards are set may serve to make financial incentives and the threat 
of failure relatively valueless. A more differentiated approach to diag- 
nosis and correction is clearly required if a greater number of ineffective 
performers is to be restored to a satisfactory level. 

Actually, it has become increasingly difficult to mobilize a fear of fail- 
ure and punishment and thus to induce negative motivation and job- 
integrated avoidance. In Chapter 1 the factors which restrict firing 
were discussed in detail. Many other limitations on the negative sanc- 
tions available to management have been imposed by society during the 
last century — just as the schoolteacher has lost the right to employ corpo- 
ral punishment to motivate her students. With the rise in our standard 
of living, even those threats that can be employed have lost some of their 
emotional impact and motivational force. This does not mean that nega- 
tive motivation is disappearing from the industrial scene but only that it 
is less subject to control by the individual manager. Unions and legal 
restrictions have increasingly deprived him of some of his more tradi- 

92 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

tional techniques for getting the work out. The result of these develop- 
ments has been a much greater concern with positive motivation and an 
intensive, sometimes frantic, search for new techniques. This search is 
still in process, although progress has been made. The gaps which remain 
will be clearly evident in the recommendations which follow. 

The basic objective is to develop procedures which will induce an 
inefiFective worker to satisfy appropriate motives through job-integrated 
behavior while employing realistic standards of success and failure. Let 
us take up the matter of satisfying motives on the job first. 

One possibility of inducing a man to satisfy appropriate motives is to 
so rearrange the hierarchy of motivation that motives suited to the spe- 
cific job achieve a dominant position. To take a rather extreme but never- 
theless instructive example, suppose that a truck driver who works alone 
is doing poorly in his job because he constantly stops to talk to people 
and therefore fails to meet his delivery schedules. He is so drawn to oth- 
ers by the anticipation of pleasure in conversation that he fails to do his 
work. Suppose further that the man's supervisor has succeeded in block- 
ing this unintegrated behavior by assigning him to an after-midnight shift 
when there is no one around to talk to. This has produced a very bitter 
and resentful individual who constantly makes mistakes because he 
cannot keep his mind on his work. Ideally, a man in this kind of job 
would drive from place to place with practically no social contacts, while 
actually deriving pleasure from the chance to be alone. The kind of solu- 
tion under consideration would require that the latter type of motivation 
be instituted to replace the desire for social interaction in the talkative 
truck driver's hierarchy of motives. 

It seems safe to assume that this sort of thing cannot generally be ac- 
complished by an individual manager. Similar changes are induced by 
clinical psychologists and psychiatrists in successful long-term psycho- 
therapy. In fact, it is the very nature of such treatment that symptoms are 
dislodged from their positions of dominance. And when a man is failing 
because of behavior associated with an emotional disorder, the appro- 
priate solution is, if at all possible, to get him into some type of treatment 
which will change the dominance relationships among his motives. In 
most cases, however, the motives and behavior involved are not sympto- 
matic of emotional illness, and such drastic personality changes are not 
appropriate even when they might be possible. Certain methods of the 
kind employed in concentration camps during World War II can also 
apparently produce such changes, but these are fortunately no longer 
available (59). 

The techniques which are available require extensive training of the 
person employing them, some desire to change on the part of the subor- 
dinate, and a great deal of time. Characteristically the business manager 

Individual Motivation to Work 93 

has none of these at his disposal. When some motive of an unconscious 
nature — a wish to fail, for instance — has assumed a position toward the 
top of the hierarchy of motives, the chances of a manager bringing about 
any real motivational change himself are at the present time almost nil. 
Less well-entrenched motives can shift position in an individual's hier- 
archy, but it is not known exactly how this may be brought about. Stud- 
ies do indicate, however, that certain kinds of management development 
efforts can produce this result ( 79 ) . At present such procedures offer the 
greatest hope of providing a solution to the problem of motivational 
change. They are particularly likely to be effective when the group is 
made up entirely of men whose performance has suffered because of mo- 
tivational factors and when the major intent of the training is to shift 
a limited number of motives, perhaps only one, to a dominant position. 
Accordingly, the group should be as homogeneous in occupation as pos- 

An alternative approach involves providing satisfactions for existing 
motives on the job. If blocks and sources of frustration can be removed 
through some change of working arrangements, then it may be possible 
for a man to achieve a satisfactory level of performance without the ne- 
cessity of attempting a major personality reorganization. In essence this 
approach involves changing conditions to satisfy important motives 
rather than changing the motives to jibe with existing conditions. Of 
course, such a solution will not be possible where the factors restricting 
the satisfaction of motives are within the individual; for example, a man 
may be unable to achieve the success he desires because he lacks the in- 
tellectual competence. But in many areas the blocks are external. They 
result from job requirements, supervisory actions, or organizational de- 
cisions which can be changed if the need for change is recognized. 

Some research carried out among managers in a large delivery com- 
pany vi^ill serve as an illustration ( 90 ) . Those who wanted to be relatively 
free and independent in making their own decisions, who derived a feel- 
ing of pleasure from being autonomous, were generally considered effec- 
tive in their work as long as they were able to satisfy their desires. But 
when people with this kind of motivation felt that they did not have an 
opportunity to influence decisions regarding their work, the resulting 
frustration was likely to contribute to ineffective performance. If the de- 
sire for independence was minimal, however, it mattered little whether 
the man was made to feel that he had a say in determining how things 
were done. His work effectiveness was not influenced by such considera- 

Thus if a man wants something very much, and it is possible to provide 
it in the job, then there is a good chance his performance will attain a 
satisfactory level. If he does not want it, there is little to be gained by 

94 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

providing it. Suppose that a subordinate desires above almost anything 
else to avoid criticism from his supervisor. But he finds that no matter 
how hard and carefully he works, criticism always follows — presumably 
because his boss assumes that the more people are pushed, the harder 
they will work. Finally he gives up. He cannot achieve the freedom from 
criticism that he wants, and so his performance level declines. Removing 
or minimizing criticism under such circumstances can produce an amaz- 
ing change. Similar results can be attained by providing an ambitious 
individual who has been blocked in his progress with a sense of 
achievement. Of the men who are failing in lower-level jobs because 
they want success badly and cannot achieve it within the confines of a 
menial work assignment, many will perform effectively in more demand- 
ing positions if it is possible to promote them. 

Although it may be feasible to obtain job-integrated behavior by intro- 
ducing desired rewards into a man's present position, this is not always 
possible. Our lonely truck driver, for instance, could not very well 
achieve satisfaction of his desire for protracted conversation and still 
perform effectively. It would require a complete redesign of his job — 
perhaps more along the lines of a delivery salesman's work — or a trans- 
fer to a new position entirely in order to give him what he wants from 
his employment and at the same time obtain satisfactory performance 
from him. Similar changes may be required when dominant motives such 
as a need to avoid some anxiety-producing aspect of the work situation, 
a drive to dominate others, a wish for attention from those at higher 
levels, a desire for group acceptance, and the like are present. The crucial 
requirement is that a careful judgment be made as to whether the new 
job will in fact provide what was lacking in the old. 

The job changes discussed above are for the purpose of creating a sit- 
uation where a man can satisfy dominant motives through integrated 
activity. What about the case where the man has already been achieving 
the emotional states desired, but through activity which is not integrated 
with job requirements and which therefore results in performance fail- 
ure? To the extent that our truck driver was able to get the social inter- 
action he desired by stopping and talking with people, his case would 
provide an example. Transfer may, of course, be the only solution when 
an integrated means of satisfying a dominant motive cannot be found 
within the confines of the present job. But there are also ways of substitut- 
ing integrated for unintegrated approaches, of inducing a man to get 
what he wants through more "desirable" methods. This does not require 
a reorganization of the motivational hierarchy but only a change in the 
means employed to satisfy existing motives. 

Although such changes can be achieved, they are not easy. The first 
requirement is that the unintegrated techniques be blocked so they can- 

Individual Motivation to Work 95 

not satisfy an employee's desire. If he is avoiding failure by refusing to 
compete — perhaps he is avoiding work either through absenteeism or 
constant excuses — he must be convinced that he is really failing, that his 
behavior is not justified and does not, in fact, protect him from being 
considered ineffective. At the same time he must be provided with an 
opportunity to avoid failure through a more integrated approach, and 
he must be persuaded to use it. He must learn that it is possible to meet 
the criteria of satisfactory performance on the job. The procedure, then, 
involves blocking one route for the attainment of what is desired and 
channeling behavior into an alternative route. If this can be done, the 
same motive which has previously contributed to failure may be em- 
ployed to establish a satisfactory level of performance. 

To accomplish such a change requires that a manager can make the 
unintegrated activities fail to achieve their ends, that he can ensure a 
greater degree of success for integrated efforts, and, finally, that he is ca- 
pable of exercising great powers of persuasion. He must somehow con- 
vince his subordinate that when the unintegrated strategies have failed, 
it is more beneficial to shift to an integrated approach than to some 
other unintegrated approach. 

The reader who would like some guidance in these efforts may wish 
to consult the book Persuasion (57), which contains an extensive review 
of social science research on the subject and some helpful hints to the 
practicing persuader. It was written originally for people in the advertis- 
ing business. As the book makes clear, persuasion is particularly diffi- 
cult when the persuader is in some way suspect and his credibility low. 
Managers may well find themselves so disadvantaged. A subordinate 
may question the degree to which his superior is actually trying to be of 
help, and may believe he is being manipulated in accordance with organ- 
izational objectives and the personal purposes of the manager. He may 
feel that improvement of his performance is not particularly desirable 
or important from his own point of view. Under such conditions, the at- 
tempt at persuasion is unlikely to succeed. 

Besides the need for inducing ineffective workers to satisfy appropri- 
ate motives through integrated methods, there is the problem of getting 
them to employ acceptable standards of success and failure. Studies indi- 
cate that output in textile plants may be increased by allowing workers 
to set their own production goals (72). These tend to be well above the 
goals previously in effect. There is no reason why similar results cannot 
be obtained as a result of a rise in standards in other situations, pro- 
vided of course, that the standards are not unrealistically high and that 
the man has the ability. Certainly the ineffective performer who has set 
excessively low standards for himself can improve considerably if he can 
be induced to establish his expectations at a higher level. Where some 

96 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

fear of failure is operative, it may be sufficient for the supervisor to set 
external standards at a level that is considered acceptable and make it 
clear that action will be taken against those who fall below it. Getting 
tough can yield results in such cases. Where there is considerable con- 
cern with popularity and group acceptance, the man's fellow workers 
might be induced to set similar standards and apply appropriate pres- 
sures. In either situation the man must have some anxiety regarding fail- 
ure, the external standards must be clear, and it must be obvious that 
freedom from failure can only be attained through more adequate per- 
formance. Where ambition is strong and fear of failure weak, however, 
the threat of punishment will accomplish nothing. In fact, the effects may 
well be negative. With this kind of person, clearly established external 
standards must be combined with a constant emphasis on the rewards 
available. The man must be given some picture of what he can gain by 
achieving at a higher level. 

This discussion has covered many of the individual motives which may 
contribute to the level of specific work motivation in various areas of 
interest — selling, managerial activity, artistic work, etc. But what about 
the man with general low work motivation? It has been noted that such 
an individual characteristically has a long string of failures preceding his 
present employment. In such cases the chances of finding a solution are 
slight, and there is little that can be done other than separate the man as 
soon as possible after his performance failure has been established. There 
are some types of ineffectiveness for which no adequate solution exists at 
the present time. When a manager is faced with a man who has no known 
motivation that might induce him to work productively, there is little to 
be gained by experimenting with a variety of possible solutions. 


With this chapter we conclude the treatment of factors 
within the subordinate himself which may be strategic for ineffective 
performance. Unfortunately there is no single integrated theory in the 
physical area which can provide a general foundation for performance 
analysis, as there is in other areas such as intelligence and motivation. 
Many of the topics here fall within the province of medicine, although 
the discussions of that field will be restricted to the specific aspects 
which are important for managerial action. Other topics involve the 
areas of vocational rehabilitation, psychiatry and clinical psychology, 
and still others have no relationship to illness at all. Because of this diver- 
sity, such theoretical treatment as seems necessary is presented in each 
section together with the discussion of practical applications. Solutions 
to problems also are taken up as they are appropriate, rather than re- 
served for a separate section. 

The first topic will be the general problem of physical illness, its im- 
pact on performance, and the methods of dealing with difficulties of this 
kind. The unique difficulties which may arise with the physically handi- 
capped will be given special attention. So too will problems associated 
with brain injuries and disorders, which often precipitate behavior simi- 
lar to that in emotional disorders. Next the physical disorders and condi- 
tions which may actually constitute symptoms of emotional illness, a 
topic which was mentioned briefly in Chapter 3, will be considered in 
order to show how emotional reactions do produce incapacitating physi- 
cal states. 

The last part of the chapter will deal with physical characteristics 
which may interact with job demands to produce failure; for example, 


98 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

size, strength, perceptual anomalies, speed of response, bodily coordina- 
tion, and capacity for fine muscular control. These factors are likely to 
be strategic in some jobs and of no significance whatsoever in others. 
Since a number of them are associated with the process of aging, the 
interaction between age and performance will be analyzed. This should 
serve to make clear why it is that certain subordinates seem to improve 
as they grow older while others lose much of their earlier eflFectiveness. 

Physical Illness and Job Performance 

There is little to be gained by listing the many symptoms which may 
appear in conjunction with physical illness. Unlike symptoms of an emo- 
tional nature, physical ones are familiar to most of us. From childhood 
on, most people in our society are taught to recognize and describe the 
various sensations which may provide a basis for medical diagnosis. As a 
result most managers are quite capable of identifying sickness in a sub- 
ordinate — at least insofar as observation and listening to the man can 
provide a clue. This does not mean that the average manager is qualified 
to make a specific diagnosis, only that he can usually tell when deficien- 
cies in performance are attributable to sickness. After that, the problem 
is one for those with specialized medical knowledge. The important man- 
agerial role is as a link between the subordinate and the physician. Al- 
though this role is much more easily fulfilled when the disorder is 
physical than when the symptoms are emotional, it may still present cer- 
tain difficulties. Not all people will seek medical help when they feel ill 
or when they are injured. Many will even resist when someone else at- 
tempts to influence them. 

Although it is common for an employee to plead that seeking treat- 
ment is somehow "sissified" and unmanly, the basic problem in these 
cases is almost always fear. Some people seem to feel that a disorder 
does not really exist until it has been diagnosed; if they can somehow 
forget about it, it will go away. It is not surprising that managerial efforts 
to interfere with this process of denial may on occasion meet with active 
resistance. With other people the various things the physician might do 
to them establish a block; surgery, blood tests, shots, and the like can be 
a strong source of negative motivation. The writer remembers one young 
man who shortly after induction into military service had his first expo- 
sure to the art of dentistry. Although scheduled for a second session, he 
never did attend. After forgetting several appointments and exhausting 
all other legal alternatives, he finally went AWOL rather than face the 
buzzing drill again. 

In some respects the impact of physical disorder on performance is 
self-evident: The major reason for failure is extended absence from the 

Physical Characteristics and Disorders 99 

job. The number of times tlie man is absent from work is not nearly so 
important as the total amount of time lost. It is true that frequent short- 
term absences are usually a greater supervisory headache, because of the 
need to cover the work on short notice and because of the constant un- 
certainty as to whether the man will be present on any given day. But the 
total amount of time away from work is the major determinant of lost 
productivity and of any direct loss the company may suffer in terms of 
payments for work not performed. 

In general, female workers tend to be absent more than male. People 
in higher-level positions, especially those in management, lose less time 
than those at lower levels. Older workers are absent more, largely because 
their illnesses and their hospitalizations last longer. They do not have 
as many short-term absences as younger employees. 

In dealing with an individual whose performance is considered inade- 
quate because of excessive absenteeism, a major requirement is that the 
company maintain contact with him during his time away from work. It 
is entirely appropriate to take steps to ensure that he is in fact receiving 
adequate medical care and that the company will be notified when he is 
physically able to return to his job. True, the company has no right to 
compel a person to work, but it should be informed when the reason for 
absence has shifted so that motivational rather than physical factors 
have assumed a strategic position. Excessive absenteeism is an appropri- 
ate basis for establishing performance failure, and when it is caused by 
physical illness, the man's condition becomes a legitimate matter for com- 
pany concern. 

Studies indicate that the employment of a visiting nurse can reduce 
the time lost from work ( 101 ) . This may become rather expensive, espe- 
cially when the labor force has homes spread over a large area, but the 
expense can be reduced if the visits cover only individuals with records 
of excessive absence. In such cases employee and union opposition is 
likely to be minimal, since the impact of the illness on performance is 
easily demonstrable. Difficulties are most common when the man does 
not have a record of excessive absenteeism and thus may easily feel that 
the visit represents the equivalent of a totally unwarranted accusation. 

If visiting nurses cannot be employed and the time a man has lost is 
excessive, the manager himself should do what he can to maintain con- 
tact. Telephone calls are apparently not sufficient for this purpose; they 
have little effect on absenteeism rates. Someone should actually see and 
talk with the man, if at all possible. Any such approach should be han- 
dled very tactfully, however. There is little to be gained by arriving at 
the door and announcing that the purpose of the visit is to determine 
whether the employee is a malingerer. Yet, with tact, contact can be kept 
up, especially with those whose absenteeism constitutes a real problem. 

100 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

without employee reactions becoming strongly negative. For a manager 
merely to wait each time until such employees finally arrive back at 
work before he resumes supervisory responsibilities will not contribute 
to his own effectiveness. 

Illness and injury can, of course, affect the quantity and quality of 
work directly if medical attention is not obtained. A person may con- 
tinue on the job and do unsatisfactory work when he should be home 
in bed or even hospitalized. Moreover, people who have many medical 
symptoms are also likely to have many emotional symptoms (100). One 
reason for this is the impact of physical illness on an individual's emo- 
tional life. Many people become anxious and afraid when they recognize 
physical symptoms in themselves. The emotional reaction may even grow 
into panic and become a symptom in its own right. Or the techniques 
which a person employs in an effort to ward off the anxiety may develop 
to the point where they constitute symptoms of emotional illness. Physi- 
cal symptoms may also induce depression, although this is less common. 
In any event, these emotions and emotional symptoms may be as detri- 
mental to performance as the physical symptoms themselves. 

In fact, sometimes relatively minor physical changes, perhaps not even 
important enough to be called symptoms, can set off severe emotional 
breakdowns. Anything that might suggest the presence of a venereal 
disease or some disorder of the genitals is particularly likely to initiate an 
intense emotional response. Similarly, an individual may interpret cer- 
tain "signs" as indicating heart disease or cancer. The writer knows of sev- 
eral people who restricted their work for years, some to the point of actu- 
ally being considered ineffective, because of a conviction that they suf- 
fered from severe heart conditions. Yet when finally these people did 
seek medical help, no evidence of disease was found. 

One group of employees in which physical factors are particularly 
likely to be strategic, if performance should fall below acceptable levels, 
is the physically handicapped. Among those who can and do continue in 
the labor force are people with heart disease, amputations of various 
kinds, crippling disabilities due to accidents or to diseases like arthritis 
and infantile paralysis, deafness, blindness, arrested tuberculosis, and 
epilepsy. Certainly all people with these physical conditions do not be- 
come employed. A number are totally incapacitated. But many do seek 
work and, in spite of sizable obstacles, find positions. In general, handi- 
capped workers tend to be concentrated in lower-level positions. When a 
man who has previously been physically normal becomes disabled in 
some manner, he is very likely to return to the labor force in a job below 
that previously held. Thus, it is the first line supervisor who is most fre- 
quently called upon to deal with problems of ineffectiveness attributable 
to physical handicaps. 

Phijsical Characteristics and Disorders 101 

All the available evidence indicates, however, that when a man is cap- 
able of steady work and is put in the right type of job, there is no particu- 
lar reason to associate the existence of a handicap with ineffectiveness 
( 95 ) . Absenteeism among handicapped workers generally is, if anything, 
somewhat less than among the physically normal. Accidents are not par- 
ticularly frequent, although the total time lost when an accident does oc- 
cur may be greater. Turnover is characteristically low. Quality and quan- 
tity of production are comparable to w^hat is found among workers in 
general. A few studies have noted slightly poorer work records, but the 
differences are always small. Certainly there is no basis for assuming that 
because a man is handicapped he will necessarily be incapable of effective 
performance. In fact, there are many firms, in addition to those sheltered 
industries having rehabilitative as well as economic objectives, that make 
it a practice to employ certain kinds of physically disabled workers ( 103 ) . 
The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has for a number of years em- 
ployed deaf workers in its plants. Timken Roller Bearing uses the blind 
to inspect bearings with a very low error tolerance. The Caterpillar Trac- 
tor Company has traditionally employed many people wdth orthopedic 
difficulties. Eastman Kodak has given preference to those with heart con- 

There are, of course, problems which are likely to arise in connection 
with specific disabilities. People with heart conditions may have some- 
what higher rates of absenteeism and may have to avoid strenuous phys- 
ical work. Amputees often become very proficient with artificial limbs, 
but certain tasks remain impossible. The deaf may learn lipreading or, if 
the impairment is not total, use hearing aids, but performance of duties 
such as those required of a stenographer is likely to be seriously impaired. 
Blindness is often incapacitating when it occurs in adulthood because of 
difficulty in adjusting to the disorder. When they are adequately trained, 
however, blind people can perform certain jobs very well. Arrested tu- 
berculosis usually leaves the person with limited strength. As a result 
frequent rest pauses may be necessary and absenteeism above average. 
Epilepsy, too, may cause a person to lose more days from work than nor- 

When these people do become ineffective for physical reasons, it is al- 
most invariably because they have been placed in a kind of work which 
their handicaps make it impossible for them to perform adequately. The 
solution is to get them into more appropriate jobs as quickly as possible. 
This should be done with medical advice, because in many cases the judg- 
ment as to whether the person has the capacity to do the work must be 
based on extensive knowledge of his condition. In addition, the placement 
should ensure that the man will not be a hazard to himself or others. 
Those who operate motor vehicles or potentially dangerous equipment 

102 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

must have the ability to protect themselves and others who work with 
them. Deaf workers cannot hear warnings; the blind cannot see a poten- 
tial source of danger; heart attacks and epileptic seizures may cause a per- 
son to lose control of his actions. 

Studies indicate that the ease with which appropriate placements may 
be found varies markedly with the nature of the disorder (95). A high 
proportion of all jobs are inevitably closed to those who have lost the use 
of both legs and to the totally blind. On the other hand blindness in one 
eye, loss of fingers, hearing difficulties short of deafness, and inability to 
use one foot are not nearly as restrictive. Undoubtedly there are com- 
panies that will have to dismiss certain handicapped workers who are in 
every sense employable, because within that particular organization no 
suitable position is available. In such cases most personnel departments 
will assist the man in obtaining appropriate work elsewhere. Many 
workers who have been hired with physical defects or who develop them 
later can, however, achieve satisfactory performance levels with the com- 
pany without becoming a burden on anyone, if appropriate duties are 
assigned. The manager who would like more information on job place- 
ments, as well as on rehabilitation programs and on publications dealing 
with the various conditions, should consult the book Vocational Reha- 
bilitation for the Physically Handicapped ( 103 ) . 

In all of the disorders discussed so far the individual fails to perform 
effectively because of physical symptoms. Where there has been some 
damage to the brain, however, this need not be the case. Many of the 
symptoms produced under such circumstances are of the same nature as 
those of emotional disorder described in Chapter 3. Yet there are impor- 
tant differences in outcome. Emotional disorders can be cured, and in the 
great majority of cases the individual then is able to achieve an adequate 
level of performance in some type of work. The symptoms eventually dis- 
appear or become less constraining, although it may be many years be- 
fore this happens. This kind of reversal of the effects may also occur in 
brain disorders. Many conditions are of an acute nature. The symptoms 
of alcohol intoxication and concussion, for instance, do not characteris- 
tically produce a prolonged deficit in performance. These acute brain 
disorders are not of much interest to us here for this very reason. Unless 
the condition is produced repeatedly, they do not function as strategic 
factors in ineffective performance. There are, however, additional dis- 
orders of a permanent nature. Performance may be impaired in such 
cases, and the difficulty may continue indefinitely. At the present time 
there is little that can be done medically to restore people with perma- 
nent structural brain damage to tlieir previous levels of effectiveness. 
Where the disorder is of a progressive nature, it may be possible to arrest 
its course, but that is the best that can be hoped for. 

Physical Characteristics and Disorders 103 

The sources of damage are many. Congenital or hereditary factors may 
result in defects which continue throughout life. So too may head injuries 
produced by falls, auto accidents, and the like. Diseases such as syphilis 
and encephalitis attack the brain. Various toxic drugs and poisons may 
be involved — alcohol, carbon monoxide, illuminating gas, lead, arsenic, 
mercury. The last three are particularly likely to be a source of brain dam- 
age in certain industries, because they are widely used in paints and dyes. 
A number of workmen's compensation claims have resulted from poison- 
ing produced by excessive exposure while on the job. Permanent efiFects 
on the brain may also occur in conjunction with heart attacks, epilepsy, 
diabetes, brain tumors, glandular disorders, and nutritional deficiencies. 
The efiFects of brain operations carried out in an attempt to cure severe 
psychoses have already been noted. 

There are, in addition, certain changes associated with aging which 
may result in a progressive impairment of the brain in some people. Cer- 
tainly not everyone suflFers this type of damage as he gets older. Neverthe- 
less, it is by far the most frequent source of brain disorder and one of 
the major causes of adniissions to mental hospitals. The process is char- 
acteristically gradual and frequently does not progress far enough to have 
any significance for management. On occasion, however, it may have con- 
siderable impact at a time when the man is at the peak of his career. The 
probability of such a condition becoming strategic for failure increases 
steadily from the age of fifty on. If a man is still working in his seventies 
and becomes ineflFective, the possibility of brain damage associated with 
old age should be one of the first hypotheses entertained. 

The specific symptoms which result from brain disorder are much the 
same irrespective of their source. The major diflFerences are associated 
with the various stages of the disorder as it develops. Where disease, ag- 
ing, or progressive poisoning is involved, the symptoms usually develop 
in gradual progression unless there is medical intervention. When a head 
injury or some other injury occurring at a single time is responsible, the 
condition will reflect the extent and type of damage. The symptoms may 
be minimally incapacitating or they may be very severe. 

In the early stages it may not be evident that a defect exists (98). 
There is some reduction in the speed and eflFectiveness of actions, espe- 
cially when the person is dealing with unfamiliar situations; things are 
done somewhat impulsively, without adequate planning; his emotional 
states change rapidly from irritability to depression to anxiety; neatness, 
honesty, and kindness give way to more self-centered attitudes; at times 
he may appear forgetful and rather vague about things with which he 
should be familiar. But unless one has known the individual well, these 
changes may not appear particularly significant. As the condition pro- 
gresses, however, it becomes increasingly clear that something is wrong 

104 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Intellectual processes and memory are obviously disturbed. The man 
may forget what he is doing or saying, where he is, or what has happened 
to him in the past. To hide these gaps he may make up stories which can 
become rather ridiculous, yet he will remain convinced of their validity. 
On occasion he repeats the same idea or phrase at frequent intervals. His 
judgment is at first merely poor, but later it becomes evident that he is 
thoroughly confused. He may then appear restless, very talkative and 
delirious. Voices which do not exist speak to him, and he sees fleeting 
images which have no correspondence to reality. 

The problem of differentiating these symptoms from those of an emo- 
tional disorder is further compounded by the fact that a person suffering 
from brain damage may well experience considerable emotional upset 
when he becomes aware of his deficiencies. Such an experience of intel- 
lectual impotence represents an extremely powerful threat to emotional 
stability (97). The resulting anxiety, and efforts to deal with it, can rep- 
resent a catastrophic reaction and evolve into a full-scale emotional dis- 
order of either neurotic or psychotic proportions. In such complex cases 
medical and psychological tests can help to determine whether the symp- 
toms are largely physical, emotional, or both. 

On occasion, a manager may wonder whether a present failure may 
not be attributable to changes produced long before. A man may, for 
instance, fail in a new position, perhaps subsequent to a promotion, after 
many years of effective performance. Could a head injury or the effects 
of some arrested disease be strategic? Where these are suspected, a search 
of the man's medical history can be fruitful. Although such searches rarely 
prove the case, they can provide strong presumptive evidence, especially 
if substantiated by psychological testing. Where the man is failing and 
permanent brain damage is seriously suspected as the cause, demotion 
to a less demanding position is most likely to provide an adequate solu- 

Physical Disorders of Emotional Origin 

The close relationship between the experience of emotion and certain 
physiological changes has been recognized for many years. Among other 
things there is an elevation in blood pressure and the rate of the heart- 
beat, an increase in rapidity of breathing, dilation of the pupils of the eye 
and of the nostrils, and an increase in sweating. In addition, a variety of 
changes in the glands occur, and various biochemical substances are cir- 
culated in the blood (31). These physiological changes may constitute 
symptoms themselves or contribute directly to the formation of symp- 
toms if certain emotions are persistently aroused. More frequently the 

Physical Characteristics and Disorders 105 

process is indirect and involves the activation of efforts to defend against 
experiencing the emotion. 

One such mechanism operates as follows. In Chapter 4, as part of the 
discussion of unconscious motivation, it was noted that certain unaccept- 
able motives break through to influence behavior in the form of slips of 
the tongue, "accidents," etc. These actions represent expressions of wishes 
which were once openly expressed but which later became associated 
with anxiety. The person learned that to anticipate satisfaction in such 
activities was bad and would bring on disturbing feelings and events. 
Apparently, under certain conditions in certain people, physical symp- 
toms in addition to mistakes and slips may become a method of express- 
ing these unconscious motives. Illness proves a perfect disguise and thus 
serves as an ideal means of warding off the anxiety that would result 
should a repressed desire become conscious. It is entirely acceptable to 
have a symptom of physical illness, whereas it is not so acceptable to 
want to kill a parent or have sexual relations with a person of the same 
sex. And so the individual attempts to cope with the threat of such im- 
pulses through a resort to protracted vomiting or to the symptoms as- 
sociated with heart disease. Under such circumstances the defensive 
process is often totally effective and anxiety almost nonexistent, in spite 
of the presence of a severe physical disorder. The individual has no 
more idea why he is ill than he might of the reasons behind a slip of the 
tongue. In other cases the defense, although rigidly maintained, is only 
partially successful, and the person experiences considerable emotional 
upset in addition to his physical symptom. 

A second mechanism operates somewhat differently. The individual 
employs the disorder directly as a means of avoiding unpleasant emo- 
tions. Any illness that will serve to remove the person from a disturbing 
situation, without forcing him to recognize his own inability to deal with 
the situation effectively, can serve this purpose. A sick headache may al- 
ways develop whenever the young secretary has a date, and may gen- 
erally make it impossible for her to come to work the next day, too. A 
faint feeling may overcome an advertising man every time he must make 
a presentation to a client. In such cases the symptom need not win out, of 
course. Some motive other than the negative one may assume a dominant 
position, and the person may continue on to face the situation with the 
added burden of his symptom. In severe neuroses, however, the symp- 
toms do control behavior. 

Sometimes this defensive process operates in a much more complex 
manner, as in the formation of a stomach ulcer ( 94 ) . Because the earliest 
childhood experiences of being taken care of are associated with being 
fed, eating itself may provide a feeling of security or love and act as a 
means of warding off anxiety for some individuals. It is this type of mo- 

106 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

tivation that operates frequently in overweight people. The ulcer patient, 
who as an individual faces frequent and potentially intense anxiety, does 
not avoid emotional upset by actually eating; but, whenever disturbing 
situations arise, he does want to be fed. And his body initiates the ap- 
propriate physiological mechanisms, among other things, the secretion 
of acid into the stomach. The resulting acid concentration eventually has 
an eroding eflFect on the stomach wall and contributes to the formation of 
an ulcer. Thus, a physical response adopted to avoid disturbing emotions 
has unfortunate side eflFects: The symptom formed can in severe cases 
result in death. 

Almost any physical symptom can be evolved in one of these ways. Un- 
fortunately, current knowledge of why people develop the specific symp- 
toms they do is very incomplete. In some cases hereditary factors seem 
to have predisposed the person to use certain parts of the body in form- 
ing disorders. In other cases it is clear that the symptom is a learned prod- 
uct of life experiences. In any event there is considerable evidence that 
physical symptoms of emotional origin are based on specific physical 
sensitivities which vary from individual to individual ( 107 ) . 

This anatomical specificity is well illustrated by a study of a group 
of patients hospitalized for either neurosis or psychosis. There were forty- 
seven who had consistently suflFered from symptoms associated with the 
head, primarily headaches, and thirty-four who had had symptoms 
related to heart functioning (high blood pressure, fainting, heart pain, 
very rapid beating of the heart). The entire group was exposed re- 
peatedly to a rather painful heat stimulus of a kind which should pro- 
voke strong and very unpleasant emotional reactions. At the same time, 
heart rate and muscle contractions in the back of the neck were both re- 
corded. Among those with a history of head symptoms, neck-muscle con- 
tractions (which contribute to the formation of symptoms such as head- 
aches) were characteristically high in this emotionally disturbing situa- 
tion. Among those without a history of such symptoms there was very little 
muscle contraction. A similar pattern emerged from the heart-rate record- 
ings. Those with heart symptoms responded to emotional stimuli with 
changes in heart functioning; those without such complaints were less 
likely to do so. 

In another study, researchers found that they could expose ragweed- 
sensitive hay -fever suflFerers to large doses of pollen with minimal mani- 
festation of symptoms as long as a tranquil and emotionally peaceful 
atmosphere was maintained. However, when the pollen was combined 
with a discussion of topics known to be emotionally disturbing to the 
person, severe hay-fever symptoms were produced. The role of emotional 
factors in the symptoms and the tendency toward a characteristic type 
of physical response was clearly demonstrated. 

Physical Characteristics and Disorders 107 

Similar studies have established the role of emotional factors in many 
other disorders, including epilepsy, diabetes, excessive fatigue, arthritis, 
constipation and diarrhea, backache, high blood pressure, hives and other 
skin diseases, disturbances of urinary function, impotence, and asthma. 
This is not to say that these conditions are always caused by emotional 
factors, or that physical causes may not interact with the emotional, as in 
the cases of hay fever above. The differentiation of causes in any specific 
case is very diflScult. Sometimes, for instance, a person will acquire a 
physically incapacitating condition, such as a sprain, as a result of non- 
emotional causes, only to have the disorder perpetuated indefinitely by 
emotional factors. 

From the managerial viewpoint, of course, the separation of strictly 
physical symptoms from those which also have an emotional aspect is im- 
portant. The treatments differ in nature and duration, and prospects for 
a continuation of any performance deficit are not the same. If an emo- 
tional factor is strategic, then the appropriate solutions are those noted 
in Chapter 3. There are innumerable instances where physical symptoms 
have been cured in psychotherapy, for instance. 

When a physical symptom of emotional origin is strategic for ineffec- 
tive performance and no other severe emotional symptoms are in evi- 
dence, it is very difficult to conclude that a neurosis is present without 
specialized training beyond that which the average manager has. 
Furthermore, the man himself will in all probability be convinced of the 
purely physical nature of his symptoms. He can be expected to resist ac- 
tively any suggestion that it is an emotional disorder which needs treat- 
ing. Under these circumstances, even if emotional causation is suspected, 
it is best to have the man thoroughly checked for physical causation. In 
some instances the medical examination will unearth nothing that would 
even suggest a physical reason for the condition. It is accordingly prob- 
able that the causation is emotional. In other instances a period of ex- 
tensive and varied medical treatment will have no effect. The man may 
even have visited several different physicians with no result. When medi- 
cal treatment which should have helped has thus consistently failed, it is 
appropriate to conclude that emotional causation may very well be in- 

Physical Characteristics and Job Performance 

Perhaps the most obvious relationships between physical characteris- 
tics and performance are in the area of bodily proportions. Success in 
various sports is strongly influenced by such factors. A short man can 
rarely compete effectively at basketball, a big man as a jockey, or a light 
man at football. Although generallv such distinctions are much less im- 

108 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

portant in industry, sometimes a problem will arise because of the design 
of equipment. The construction of machinery must be based on some as- 
sumptions regarding the range of physical proportions of future opera- 
tors, and occasionally a man is hired who falls outside this range. Very 
short people may find it difficult to reach the controls of certain kinds of 
vehicles. People with very long legs may be so cramped that they cannot 
get adequate leverage on foot pedals. Usually these problems are easily 
identified. Transfer to a more physically suitable type of work is the most 
appropriate solution. 

The aesthetic qualities of various physical characteristics are unlikely 
to have any efiFect on performance, outside of a few obvious occupations 
such as modeling, acting, and similar fields. However, such factors may 
influence judgments of effectiveness. It is easy to assume, almost without 
thinking, that a physically unattractive person is equally deficient in job- 
related skills. On the other hand, many a young secretary has maintained 
her position despite continued inability to fulfill job demands because of 
her contribution to office decor. It is not always easy to separate such 
inappropriate criteria from those which are in fact related to company 

A somewhat more important physical factor involves the use of various 
muscles and muscle groups in carrying out work activities. Characteris- 
tics such as speed of muscular response, muscular dexterity, and strength 
vary considerably from person to person and may become sources of 
failure. Women, for instance, are usually inferior in physical strength and 
speed of reaction, but they surpass men in manipulative dexterity. As a 
result women are more likely than men to fail in unskilled laboring jobs 
( which they hold in many countries ) but more likely to succeed in intri- 
cate assembly work ( 99 ) . 

Although there are certainly inherent differences between people in 
physical speed, strength, and dexterity, training can have considerable 
impact on the final skill level exhibited. This learning tends to be special- 
ized; those who possess one kind of skill do not necessarily possess others 
(96). Gross coordination of the arms and legs, the speed of muscular 
reaction, balance, and the various fine dexterities involving the use of the 
fingers, hands, or arms, are relatively independent skills. They may be de- 
veloped to a point of minimal proficiency very rapidly, but further train- 
ing continues to yield increments in performance over long periods of 
time. As a result, extensive practice may be required before a level con- 
sidered adequate for effective performance on the job is attained. Some 
people may never reach it. 

Actually, when it is said of a man that he possesses a certain level of 
manual dexterity or physical agility, it indicates something about the 
rate at which he might be expected to learn new tasks of a related nature 

Physical Characteristics and Disorders 109 

and about the final level of proficiency that he is likely to attain. Studies 
of textile machine operators, for instance, indicate tremendous variation 
in rate of production, both during the training period and later, as a func- 
tion of diflFerences in finger dexterity (102). When a person is consid- 
ered ineffective because of a deficiency in some motor ability which his 
job requires, this implies that he has not attained a satisfactory level of 
proficiency after having had a reasonable amount of adequate training. 

Although muscular activity, especially strength, has played an impor- 
tant role in many jobs throughout history, the number of positions re- 
quiring such skills is steadily decreasing. Machinery, often automated, is 
taking over from human muscle power and dexterity. In one study of 
124 different occupations, only 8 were still commonly filled by people 
with a well-above-average level of muscular skill. These were airplane 
pilot, control-tower operator, sales engineer, machinist, appliance me- 
chanic, office machine mechanic, mine driller, and printing pressman 
( 22 ) . Many of the jobs which continue to make demands in this area are 
at a relatively low level and may be redesigned in the future to eliminate 
the motor requirements. In fact, some of these jobs are already in transi- 
tion, being performed manually in some companies and mechanically in 
others. The requirements which have already started to change or may be 
expected to in the near future include: finger dexterity among semiskilled 
assemblers of electrical equipment and among workers engaged in metal 
processing; motor speed among painters and shoe-factory workers; arm 
dexterity among laundry pressers and molders; manual dexterity among 
various types of packers and certain clerical workers ( 4 ) . 

Some of the most comprehensive research on relationships between 
physical skills and performance has been conducted to improve the op- 
eration of airplanes, both military and civilian (101). Tests of various 
abilities have proved particularly valuable in selecting those who will be 
proficient pilots. For this purpose the most important skills appear to be 
the ability to carry out complex, coordinated movements of hands and 
feet in response to visual signals and the ability to coordinate the action 
of both hands simultaneously. Pilots in training who lack these dexteri- 
ties are unlikely to graduate and achieve placement in commercial air- 
craft. If they do, there is a good chance that they will be unsatisfactory. 

Few other occupations have been studied as extensively as that of air- 
plane pilot, and because of the declining significance of motor skills gen- 
erally, it is unlikely that they ever will be. As a result, managers may not 
be able to obtain very precise diagnostic information regarding the role 
of muscular factors in failure. Nevertheless, there are a number of tests of 
motor proficiency available. The standardized tests of secretarial skills 
are perhaps the best known, but there are many others. If it is impossible 
to determine from close observation of the person on the job whether 

110 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

his failure is due to problems of physical skill, emotional disruption, or 
motivational inadequacies, a check with a specialist in the area of per- 
formance analysis may be helpful. 

Once it has been estabHshed that some type of muscular speed, 
strength, or dexterity is important in work, and that the man is failing 
because he does not meet these demands, the manager can take appro- 
priate action. If the man lacks the requisite strength or stamina, there is 
a possibility that he might gain it through physical-fitness training of 
some kind. Often, however, this is either impractical or too time-consum- 
ing to provide a solution. In such instances transfer to a less physically 
demanding type of work is most appropriate. But if the man is already in 
an unskilled job — and this is likely to be the case, since laboring jobs are 
among the few that consistently require considerable physical strength — 
transfer may not be easy. This problem will be taken up shortly in the 
discussion of older workers. 

Where the diflBculty involves muscular skill more specifically, training 
may provide a solution. Possibly the man has not had an adequate op- 
portunity to develop the coordinated movements required, and perhaps 
with more extended learning he could attain a satisfactory level of per- 
formance. If his training has been curtailed or clearly inadequate in some 
respect, this is an obvious answer. But if he has completed the normal 
training without achieving the requisite standard, a decision is necessary 
as to how much additional training should be permitted. There comes a 
point at which further investment in the learning process is not warranted; 
it is conceivable that the man might eventually achieve acceptable per- 
formance, but the cost of getting him there would be prohibitive. In such 
a case transfer to some other type of work is appropriate. The new job 
need not be devoid of physical demands, although it should not impose 
requirements similar to those of the position in which failure occurred. 
Since the various physical skills are essentially independent, failure in 
one indicates little about proficiency in others. 

In addition to bodily proportions and muscular abilities, sensory ca- 
pacities may also influence performance. Among the various senses, how- 
ever, only vision and hearing are likely to be strategic. Many people who 
suffer from defects of these senses (although they are not truly handi- 
capped) are regularly placed in work where their deficiencies put them 
at a disadvantage. In part this is because of a failure to carry out suffi- 
cient preemployment testing, in part because of the generally unreliable 
nature of mass physical examinations. Various studies indicate that a 
second physical examination based on identical standards, by another 
physician may disqualify from 20 to 50 percent of those who have pre- 
viously been certified as physically qualified for employment (101). It 

Physical Characteristics and Disorders 111 

is evident that people with defects suflBcient to produce performance 
failure may well appear in any employee group. Where certain perceptual 
skills are particularly important in the work, this can be one of the more 
common strategic factors. 

Within the visual realm, such defects as far- and nearsightedness are 
frequent sources of difficulty. The individual may not be able to see 
clearly because his glasses are inappropriate, because the condition can- 
not be corrected, or because he needs glasses. Such factors can be a ma- 
jor source of error in many jobs, since adequate discriminations cannot 
be made when vision is defective. Under certain conditions, as, for ex- 
ample, when a man's work requires him to operate some means of trans- 
portation, other visual factors may become strategic — ability to see at 
night, peripheral vision, depth perception, color vision. The latter is par- 
ticularly important when colored signals or safety indicators are em- 
ployed in connection with the work. An electrician who must differenti- 
ate between colored wires can make some dramatic mistakes if he is not 
capable of perceiving color differences. Approximately 8 percent of all 
males (and less than half of 1 percent of all females) show some degree 
of color blindness; 2 percent are totally unable to tell red from green. 

Besides these visual capacities there is also a skill which has been called 
perceptual speed. Many jobs require that a person rapidly and accurately 
identify small differences in visual detail. In one respect, reading de- 
mands this ability. Perceptual speed is a major requirement in many cleri- 
cal occupations where one list must be checked against another or com- 
putations compared. Inspection jobs of various types also demand it. 
Often a job requires perceptual speed and motor speed in combination; 
the individual must quickly note something and then respond with some 
appropriate action. Where a person lacks perceptual speed, the quantity 
of work he produces is likely to be insufficient. Or if he is pressured into 
increasing his output, there is a sharp increase in the number of errors. 

Auditory problems are less diverse than visual and usually arise from 
difficulties in hearing sounds of a certain pitch. Often the person thinks 
he hears one thing and acts accordingly, only to learn that he was wrong. 
Some partially deaf people go to considerable lengths to cover their 
deficiencies by guessing at what others have said. Many times they are 
right; they combine what they have heard with a knowledge of the con- 
text to obtain an estimate of what they have not heard. On other occasions 
they are wrong. And if these occasions should consistently coincide with 
the giving of job assignments and instructions, the resulting errors may be 
frequent and serious. In addition to problems of hearing the human voice, 
difficulty in perceiving auditory signals can sometimes be strategic. 
Differences between job conditions and the conditions under which 

112 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

medical and psychological tests of visual and auditory capabilities are 
administered sometimes make the tests less valuable than they might be. 
For instance, auditory tests are usually conducted in a noise-free room. 
But the man who works in a noisy factory must be able to pick out signifi- 
cant words from a mass of background sounds. 

Often when a manager has a hunch that a perceptual problem is at the 
root of a subordinate's failure, it is possible with a little ingenuity to de- 
\ise a practical test on the spot. Varying the loudness of speech during 
conversation may provide clues regarding auditory perception. Color 
vision can be tested by asking for information regarding objects which 
do not have their normal color. Visual acuity may be checked by asking a 
man to read an old newspaper headline from a distance. If these methods 
suggest that a defect exists, a comprehensive clinical evaluation is in or- 
der. Once sensory deficiencies have been identified by whatever means, 
they should be handled in the same manner as physical handicaps. Vari- 
ous corrective devices such as eyeglasses or hearing aids are, of course, 
more Hkely to restore effective performance in these cases than among 
the severely disabled. 

Almost all the muscular and sensory abilities noted in this section tend 
to dechne with age — speed of movement, dexterity and coordination, 
physical strength, visual and auditory sensitivity, and perceptual speed 
(104). In general, the decline starts in the late twenties and is gradual in 
natiure. There are major differences between individuals, however. While 
some people maintain certain abifities at an almost constant level through- 
out life, others show a precipitous decline. The result is that the differ- 
ences in any one of these physical characteristics within a group of men 
in their sixties will be much greater than those within a group of twenty- 
year-olds. Thus, although deficiencies of this kind are increasingly hkely 
to be strategic for performance failure as life progresses, there is no rea- 
son to assume that physical characteristics wdll necessarily contribute to 
ineffectiveness in an older employee. 

In fact, there are studies which suggest that the impact of this decline 
on actual job performance may be minimal in many instances. An analysis 
of production records maintained for 6,000 clerical workers in five gov- 
ernment agencies and twenty-one different companies indicated that 
there were essentially no differences associated with age ( 105 ) . Separate 
analysis by sex yielded the same results. The occupations were primarily 
of a routine nature — typists, keypunch operators, and various clerks en- 
gaged in filing, posting, and sorting activities. The older workers did as 
well as younger ones and were no more likely to fall below acceptable 
levels of performance. 

On the other hand, findings from similar studies carried out among 


Physical Characteristics and Disorders 113 

factory workers in the men's footwear, men's clothing, and household 
furniture industries did indicate a decline in the performance of the older 
workers. The number of ineflFectives increased steadily above the age 
of forty-five. Presumably the differences between the two studies are at- 
tributable to the varying physical demands of the jobs. Strength and 
stamina are of considerable importance in the factory jobs, and as the 
men got older they were incapable of maintaining an adequate rate of 
output. The clerical positions, on the other hand, require finer muscular 
skills, to the extent that they require physical abilities at all. Dexterities 
of this kind are more likely to be aided by continued practice. This, plus 
the increases in job-related mental abihties which come with age, pre- 
sumably served to counteract any decline in physical competence. 

Whether or not older workers will actually perform less effectively, 
then, depends on the extent to which a reduction in physical capacities 
makes any difference in tlie particular kind of work they are doing and 
on the extent to which they are able to compensate for the physi- 
cal changes. Up to a point, most people can make up for any detrimental 
effects of physical deficiencies through increased motivation, superior 
mental abilities, greater job knowledge, and the like. But when the physi- 
cal demands are primary and the deficiencies marked, performance will 
suffer. This is much more likely to happen in occupations of a blue-collar 
nature than it is in clerical and managerial groups. 

Some recent studies indicate that much of this decline in perform- 
ance is attributable to a general slowing down with age ( 106 ) . Perceptual 
and motor speed are markedly affected. Most older workers apparently 
can perform various job duties just as well as those who are much 
younger, but they cannot repeat the operations over and over again at 
the same rate. Even the strength which is required in connection with 
most unskilled positions is entirely within the capabilities of most em- 
ployees of more advanced age. But the majority cannot maintain the pace. 
If they are pressed to increase their output, quality will fall off badly. 
When left to their own devices, most older workers who have experi- 
enced some decline in a job-related ability will concentrate on accuracy. 
A complete elimination of errors is the only way they can approach an 
adequate overall performance level. 

This fact appears to provide an important clue to the placement of 
older workers who have failed because of declining physical abilities. If 
the man can be shifted to a job which does not require any physical char- 
acteristics he lacks, that is, of course, ideal. But with many lower-level 
workers there is no other position for which they are qualified. The next- 
best alternative is to shift them to positions where a penchant for accu- 
racy at the expense of speed is desirable. Placement in assembly-line jobs 

114 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

which require constant repetition of the same physically demanding ac- 
tivities is not likely to restore eflFective performance. Unskilled work in- 
volving continuous digging or loading operations is also of dubious value. 
Janitorial activities, on the other hand, may present no difficulties even 
though the work is occasionally heavy. The important thing is to elimi- 
nate any pacing of the work or constant repetition of the same move- 



The discussion so far has dealt with the individual charac- 
teristics of a subordinate which may contribute to his failure: the intel- 
lectual, emotional, motivational, and physical factors which may become 
strategic. We will turn now to several group or social factors which often 
serve as determinants of ineffectiveness. These group factors will be 
treated in ascending order of size. This and the ensuing chapter will deal 
with the two smaller groups which can directly influence a person's job 
performance — the family and the group at work. 

The term family will be used in a comprehensive sense. In much of the 
discussion it will mean the original group into which the employee was 
bom. This includes parents, brothers, sisters, and on occasion, other rela- 
tives. Sometimes as a result of divorce and remarriage, it becomes a very 
complex unit indeed. This group remains important to the individual 
throughout its existence, although it usually loses some of its significance 
as he progresses into adulthood. In addition, the term family will denote 
the family the individual creates by marriage or, on occasion, by mutual 
agreement. Customarily it includes a husband, wife, and children. It may 
combine to some degree with the parental families of either husband or 
wife. A third family consisting of the parents of the marital partner may 
also assume a strategic position under certain circumstances. Sometimes 
the wife's parents have a surprisingly strong influence on a man's perform- 

Since the next chapter will be devoted entirely to social relationships 
on the job, the reader may wonder at the neglect of other small groups in 
which an individual may hold membership — the various friendship 
groups, clubs, gangs, etc., as well as the relationships formed in engage- 
ments and "going steady." The reason for their omission is that these as- 
sociations do not appear to have an impact on performance very often. 
When they do achieve a strategic position, it is through routes similar to 
those discussed here. Thus, what is said about the influence of the family 


116 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

can generally be applied equally well to any other small group outside 
the work situation. 

There is one unique feature associated with the identification of family 
factors in performance analysis which is important primarily because of 
the opportunities for error it introduces. Events occurring in the parental 
family during a much earlier period may have considerable impact on 
the emotional and motivational patterns a person brings to his job. To 
some extent intellectual and physical characteristics are similarly affected. 
Performance failure is often influenced by things that happened many 
years before, in the so-called formative years. Factors such as mental 
illness of parents, separation and divorce, parental conflict, lack of af- 
fection in the family, overrestriction of activities, mental illness of 
a brother or sister, and intense conflict with other family members are 
much more common in the early histories of adult neurotics than of those 
who do not become ill (112). Presumably these experiences contribute 
in some way to the sensitivities which later combine with situational 
stresses to produce breakdown. Similarly, when people who are known 
to have made poor occupational adjustments, for whatever reason, are 
compared with those who have performed effectively, a pattern of early 
family problems emerges (110). The ineffectives had more conflict with 
their parents and received less affection. Criminal behavior, emotional 
disorder, and other deviations were more common within their families. 
In addition, a tendency to lean on their parents to an excessive degree was 
actively fostered at home. 

Such influences are, however, indirect in that the family does not oper- 
ate here and now to produce the ineffective performance. The actual 
strategic factors are only conditioned by the family events of years be- 
fore. Although much of what the manager has to deal with is a result of 
childhood experiences, these experiences themselves do not operate di- 
rectly to create ineffectiveness. For this reason, the discussion will be 
restricted to those family influences which can be present at the time of 
failure. These may, of course, on occasion be continuations or repetitions 
of influences initiated many years before. In any event, we will not be 
concerned with the parental family as it contributed to the development 
of individual characteristics at a much earlier date. Such matters are not 
of legitimate concern in conducting a performance analysis. 

Among the factors which may operate here and now to influence a 
man's behavior at work are crises in the family, separation from the fam- 
ily, and a variety of demands and actions within the home which serve 
to make his work seem distinctly secondary to him. These will be taken 
up in order and the matter of corrective action then discussed. 

Family Ties 117 

Family Crises 

The term crisis has been appUed to a number of different events which 
may have severely disruptive effects on a family. Sociologists have not 
always been in accord in drawing up lists of these events, but there seems 
to be general agreement that at least three categories are relevant ( 108 ) . 
First among these is economic shock or impoverishment: the sudden loss 
of savings and income so that the family cannot continue to support itself 
as a group. Much of the research in this area has dealt with the effects of 
bank failures and unemployment during periods of depression. Although 
crises of this kind may become strategic for performance failure, this is 
rather infrequent since usually the loss of employment is inherent in the 
crisis situation. In other cases the economic factors which become strate- 
gic in a man's performance do not involve his family and so fall outside 
the scope of this chapter. For these reasons economic crises will not be 
treated here, even though from a broader sociological perspective they 
may have considerable importance. 

A second type of event is clearly relevant to this discussion. It involves 
the actual or imminent disruption of the family by desertion, separation, 
or divorce. As noted previously, either the parental family or the family 
formed by the individual's marriage may be strategic. Sometimes the dis- 
integration of a man's parental family can be as sharp a blow as 
the breakup of his own marital relationship. The disruption need not 
actually take place for a crisis to be strategic, but the probability of oc- 
currence must be very high. Infidelity, for instance, may have the same 
emotional meaning as divorce, even though there is in the end no actual 
dissolution of the marriage. Both may carry an implication of total rejec- 
tion and betrayal. 

Crises in a third category are even more likely to contribute to defi- 
ciencies on the job. These involve the severe illness or death of a family 
member. Although physical illness with its threat of imminent bereave- 
ment is most likely to be associated with a crisis situation, emotional dis- 
orders of psychotic proportions can have a similar impact. Suicide is 
probably more apt to have a negative effect on other family members 
than any other single factor. To these events involving loss or dismem- 
berment should no doubt be added a few instances of increased mem- 
bership. On occasion the birth of an unwanted child, whether illegiti- 
mate or not, can have a sizable impact on the performance of a family 

These crises most often cause ineffectiveness as a result of the emo- 
tional responses which they instigate. What the manager observes di- 

118 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

rectly is a rapid deterioration of performance along the lines described in 
Chapter 3. There may be sufficient stress to provoke a full-scale emotional 
disorder in some cases, although usually it is just the frequent arousal of 
overpowering emotion that disrupts work. Sometimes the reaction is pri- 
marily motivational. The crisis rearranges the individual's hierarchy of 
motives and introduces new methods of obtaining satisfactions so that 
there may be a sizable increase in activity which is unintegrated with the 
job. Whether the reaction is primarily emotional or motivational, how- 
ever, the fact of sudden change should suggest to the manager that some 
kind of family crisis may be strategic. The existence of a crisis is particu- 
larly likely when a subordinate unexpectedly announces his intention to 
resign without having formulated any definite plans for the future. Al- 
though such resignations occur for many reasons, it is not uncommon for 
a person who has just experienced a severe family crisis to attempt to get 
away from it all and start over again. 

These comments should not be taken to imply that family crises will 
inevitably result in performance failure. Although most people will be 
affected emotionally by such events, the majority will not permit their 
performance to suffer. In other cases the deficit will be only temporary. 
There are tremendous differences between people in their reactions to 
specific crises and within people in their sensitivities to varying events. 

Why some employees become totally preoccupied with certain family 
problems while others weather them with little difficulty is a matter 
which is only beginning to receive scientific attention. In this respect it is 
similar to many other topics treated in this chapter. Although a great deal 
is known about how economic and employment factors influence the 
family (109), there has been very little research on the reverse relation- 
ship — how family events and conditions influence performance at work. 

One aspect of the response to crises which has received considerable 
study is the grief reaction in cases of bereavement. Certain kinds of symp- 
toms have been observed repeatedly among those who become tempo- 
rarily disturbed after the loss of a loved one. When illnesses of a more ex- 
tended nature result from grief, they tend to follow equally well-defined 
patterns. Since every manager can expect to handle at least one case of 
acute grief during his career, a knowledge of these patterns and their re- 
lationships to performance should be helpful. Responses to the loss of a 
family member for reasons other than death may take a very similar 
course. Desertion, separation, and divorce (and sometimes the breakup 
of an engagement or an affair) can provoke grief reactions which are 
emotionally identical with those precipitated by death, although certain 
external manifestations may differ. 

One of the most significant studies of bereavement dealt with 101 peo- 
ple who responded with varying degrees of emotional upset to the death 

Family Ties 119 

of a loved one (114). They were interviewed extensively during the grief 
reaction, and all symptoms were noted. When the reaction was of rela- 
tively short duration, the manifestations were as follows: periods of phys- 
ical distress which involved tightness in the throat, shortness of breath 
and sighing, an empty feeling in the stomach, and an overall sensation 
of weakness or exhaustion; preoccupation with the image of the deceased 
person to the point where it was almost impossible to think about any- 
one else; feelings of guilt, often manifested in a tendency to self-blame 
whenever any unhappiness experienced by the deceased person was 
mentioned; considerable irritability and anger in dealing with others, 
often involving total rejection of some former friends; changes in typical 
behavior because activities previously carried out with the deceased 
now seemed empty and meaningless. Sometimes there was also a tend- 
ency to assume characteristics of the lost person — mannerisms, hobbies, 
even symptoms manifested during the terminal illness. 

As a result of these preoccupations and emotions, a bereaved person 
may be completely unable to concentrate on his work. If the unpleasant 
feelings are accepted and not avoided, this process should run its course 
within a reasonable period. Difficulties commonly arise, however, if the 
man attempts to blot out all memory of the deceased and thus ward off 
distress. Under these circumstances there may be practically no expres- 
sion of unpleasant emotion for a considerable time. Often he dives into 
his job with great gusto. Then, several weeks or even several months later, 
the depressive feelings may break through in such overwhelming propor- 
tions that work becomes totally impossible. At such times there may be 
almost constant crying. 

These more severe emotional responses to loss may, of course, occur 
immediately following the crisis as well as after a delay. Usually they in- 
clude exaggerations of the reactions noted previously. The rejection of 
friends may be complete, and intense hatred of them may even develop. 
Physical symptoms of emotional origin may be manifested. Bloody diar- 
rhea is frequently associated with an experience of loss ( 107 ) ; so too are 
the symptoms of arthritis and asthma. The man may become indecisive, 
unable to initiate any activity unless prodded. In the most extreme cases 
a depression of psychotic proportions may emerge, with symptoms such 
as marked tension, constant activity, sleeplessness, feelings of inadequacy, 
bitter self-accusations, and an intense desire to be punished for imag- 
ined misdeeds. Such people can become suicidal. 


In many of the crisis situations noted, at least part of the distress is 
precipitated by the threat or actual fact of being separated from an emo- 

120 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

tionally significant person. Certainly this is true where desertion, divorce, 
physical illness, or death are involved. In addition, there are many other 
instances of separation which would not be considered crises except in 
terms of the individual's reaction to them. 

Very young children often become depressed and apathetic when 
separated from their parents for hospitalization or other reasons, and re- 
main "clingy" and disturbed for some time after returning to the family. 
Child psychologists are frequently called upon to treat school phobias in 
youngsters who become terrified each day when it is time to leave home. 
Later, a child's homesickness may disrupt a stay at summer camp or with 
relatives. Such reactions are not restricted to the early years. Armies have 
been plagued throughout history with desertions occasioned by an in- 
tense desire to return to the family. This was such a problem to the Na- 
tionalist Chinese that they adopted a policy of flying all new conscripts 
to training camps many hundreds of miles removed from the men's homes. 
Studies of prison inmates indicate that separation from the family is their 
primary source of anxiety ( 113 ) . 

In the business world this separation anxiety (or homesickness) can 
assume importance when the man must be away from a significant fam- 
ily for considerable periods. It is therefore most likely to be a problem 
among salesmen, traveling auditors, consultants, and managers whose 
duties call for frequent trips to company facilities out of town. It can also 
be troublesome in transportation industries and in companies which 
make it a policy to send people on extended assignments without their 

It is not uncommon for employees to perform much less effectively 
away from home than they do when able to return to their families every 
evening. Unfortunately, the man who is separated from his family is also 
often separated from direct supervision. As a result, performance failure 
does not become evident immediately and may, in fact, never manifest 
itself clearly unless the man becomes severely disturbed. Certainly a man- 
ager should make every effort to keep a close check on the performance 
of a subordinate working away from home for the first time. Once it is 
clear that separation anxiety is not elicited, of course, such intensive ef- 
forts need not be maintained. 

What actually happens in separation anxiety is similar to several proc- 
esses which have already been noted. All of us tend, on occasion, to seek 
the help and support of certain family members and friends when we are 
upset about something. We ask others to assist us in making decisions and 
to cheer us up when we feel dejected. In some people this response to 
anxiety and other unpleasant emotions has assumed the position of a 
standard defense, an invariant method of reacting to the slightest hint of 
emotional distress. As long as the need to lean on others can be exercised 

Family Ties 121 

without disrupting other activities, there is no real problem. Once separa- 
tion occurs, however, the motive cannot be satisfied. Away from his 
family a man with such a motive may lose all sense of security, feel lost 
and helpless, and eventually become so anxious and depressed that work 
is almost impossible. In many cases this pattern is similar to a grief re- 
action in that it includes an irritable attitude toward others and an in- 
ability to reach decisions or initiate activity. Since men who spend con- 
siderable time on the road may well be called upon to meet new people, 
often customers, and to make important decisions on the spot, this kind 
of response to separation can have extremely detrimental effects. 

Anxiety reactions need not manifest themselves immediately at the 
time of separation. Many people are able to do effective work away 
from home for a long time before absence from the family begins to have 
its effect. In these instances the fears and sense of helplessness are at 
first counteracted by other strong motives. Finally, the individual is no 
longer able to compensate in this manner, and despite all his efforts the 
caliber of his work falls off. 

Some men who find separation from their families emotionally diffi- 
cult avoid it for this reason. But others make a dehberate effort to prove 
themselves by volunteering for traveling assignments and applying for 
jobs which keep them away from home. Therefore a man cannot be 
counted on to evaluate his own strengths and weaknesses correctly in this 
respect. The decision regarding work away from home should be a man- 
agerial one and should be based on an objective evaluation of the indi- 
vidual. Of course, some people who seek such work do so because they 
actually want to get away from home. They may even perform more ef- 
fectively when freed of their intolerable family situation. In one investi- 
gation of the effects of separation during wartime, well over 10 percent 
of the men studied viewed being drafted as a welcome release ( 111 ) . 

In a different form of separation, one of a man's families remains intact 
while he is separated from another. When a man, his wife, and his chil- 
dren move because he has been transferred or has taken a job outside the 
local area, problems may arise because he must leave his parental family 
behind. When the relationship between the two families has been very 
close and the man has never been separated from his parents for any ex- 
tended period, a move to another part of the country can present a real 
threat. In spite of the increasing mobility of the "corporate family," this 
situation remains a potential source of difficulty even within manage- 
ment. Some men will refuse to accept a transfer out of the town in which 
their parents live and, if pressured, will seek employment with another 
company to ensure against separation. Others will accept or even seek the 
change only to find themselves incapable of adjusting. They may ask to 
return to the former position or may resign rather suddenly to move 

122 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

back to their hometown. Rarely does a man explain any of these actions 
as being due to a desire to maintain close contact with a parental family. 
The manager may have to dig under a massive barrage of "rational" ex- 
planations to unearth the true cause. The man himself may not be aware 
of his real motives or of the sources of his distress. 

The possible strength of this type of motivation is perhaps not gener- 
ally recognized. Although most people who reject jobs requiring separa- 
tion from their parents and friends would not be ineffective if they did 
make the change, it is still true that attachments of this kind often in- 
fluence important decisions. Many young men will not even consider 
careers that might force them to leave the area where their parents live. 
With regard to education, one of the major reasons why a large number 
of qualified young people do not attend college is that appropriate op- 
portunities do not exist near home, and they do not wish to leave their 
families to enter institutions many miles away. 

Crisis reactions appear to be accentuated by separation under certain 
circumstances. If a man is away from home and has reason to believe that 
his wife is unfaithful or contemplating divorce, or that the integrity of 
the family group is threatened in some other way, the fact of separation 
may make any crisis reaction much more severe. Being away from the 
locus of the trouble produces a sense of helplessness which serves to in- 
tensify emotional experiences. It may be that the man could do nothing 
to avert the crisis, but separation precludes the possibility even of try- 

Separation may also cause ineffectiveness in instances where the family 
has been counteracting an employee's intellectual and physical deficien- 
cies. Away from home he may have to face situations which demand more 
than he can accomplish alone. For example, many low-intelligence peo- 
ple are able to maintain adequate performance in unskilled jobs by relying 
on family members for assistance with personal finances and other mat- 
ters. Or a man who does not understand something that develops in con- 
nection with his work can sometimes take the problem home and obtain 
a solution for subsequent use in comparable situations. Separation pre- 
cludes this type of help and may therefore turn a satisfactory worker into 
an unsatisfactory one. 

Somewhat similar is the situation of the man who has no family or 
close personal relationships that he can turn to in time of need. Here it is 
not separation but a total lack of emotional support that is crucial; social 
isolation can leave a man extremely vulnerable to emotional breakdown. 
The presence of other people and the opportunity to talk over problems, 
as well as the sense of being wanted that goes with being a member of* a 
family or close group, can be very important as a buffer against difficult 
circumstances. Thus, although isolation is unlikely to be strategic for fail- 

Family Ties 123 

lire in itself, the lack of group ties may serve as a catalyst in the rapid de- 
velopment of debilitating emotional responses under conditions of stress. 
It has already been noted that psychoses with anxiety predominating 
develop with unusual frequency in the downtown areas of large cities, 
where rooming-house districts are located and where family ties are at a 

Predominance of Family Considerations 
over Work Demands 

In a sense, the reactions to crises and to separation which have been 
discussed represent instances where family considerations have taken 
precedence over job performance. This conflict between family and oc- 
cupational spheres is also evident in other cases where no direct threat 
to family unity is involved. In fact, in these cases it is the presence of the 
family that creates the difiiculty. There are a number of ways in which 
situations of this kind may develop. The discussion here will be limited 
to those which in the writer's experience have represented the major causes 
of performance deficit. 

One common problem arises when a subordinate is more responsive to 
the demands of family members than to those of his superiors at work. A 
wife may feel lonely and neglected, resenting any intrusion on 'lier time" 
occasioned by overtime work, business trips, and the like. She may even 
resent the fact that her husband must be at work eight hours a day. Shift 
work schedules are particularly likely to stir up such reactions. The result 
may be that the man goes to his superior and refuses to work overtime, 
or travel, or accept a shift assignment. Another effect may be that his ab- 
senteeism becomes excessive. Whether or not he reacts in these ways de- 
pends as much on him as on the wife. Many men are exposed throughout 
life to a tug of war between family and job demands. Some are able to 
give precedence to the employment relationship when this is necessary to 
maintain an adequate performance level, while others tend to allow fam- 
ily demands to predominate. 

On occasion, family demands of this kind stem from problems created 
by children. The writer has dealt with several cases where, when the 
mother became the least bit ill, the father was expected to stay home 
from work and take care of the children. If a wife suffers from some phys- 
ical disorder having primarily emotional causes, this can result in an ex- 
cessive amount of lost time. In such a case the husband is often called 
away from work during the middle of the day to tend his offspring, al- 
though he may not describe the situation to his boss in quite these terms. 
Difficulties with children are particularly frequent when both wife and 
husband work. Under such circumstances one or both may stay at home 

124 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

whenever there is some diflSculty with the sitter or when the children are 

It is also true that the wife may be the one who becomes very upset 
when separation from the parental family occurs. This is perhaps most 
common when the family has been sent to a foreign installation. Actu- 
ally, the incidence of breakdowns attributable to separation and exposure 
to unfamiliar situations may well be higher in any given company among 
wives than among the men themselves. This is primarily because the men 
have usually been appraised to determine whether they can be expected 
to perform effectively in the new assignment, while wives are rarely eval- 
uated in this manner. In addition, women probably maintain close ties to 
their parents over a longer period than men do. Since the wife is also 
likely to be younger than her husband, she may well be leaving home 
for the first time on the occasion of his assignment, while he may already 
have been away at college or in the armed forces. 

The solutions to family problems caused by a wife's separation reaction 
are varied. In some cases she may enter psychiatric treatment. Or she may 
eventually adjust to the separation. Sometimes she will continue to be 
upset over an extended period, but her condition will have little effect 
on her husband's performance. On occasion more drastic solutions, such 
as divorce, are sought. Or the wife may merely return to her home while 
the man continues at work. She may become severely depressed and even 
commit suicide, although this is rare. When a man does place family fac- 
tors above his job and permits his performance to be drastically affected, 
he may do so only because he believes his family is threatened with dis- 
integration in some such manner. 

There are other cases where a man's failure on the job seems to be only 
part of a complex pattern of family trouble and emotional upset. It has 
been recognized for years that people treated for emotional disorders in 
mental hospitals and discharged as cured often become disturbed again 
shortly after returning to their families. It is now known that the family 
can establish the conditions of threat whicli serve to precipitate or pro- 
long symptoms of emotional disorder, and that even though only one 
member actually becomes ill, the whole group may be basically dis- 
turbed (109). There has been an increasing tendency for psychiatrists 
and clinical psychologists to carry out treatment in the home with the 
whole family, rather than in an office with only the person who has 
sought help. 

A continuing condition of threat in the home may provoke emotional 
reactions in a subordinate which, although not sufficient to be considered 
indicative of illness, nevertheless disrupt performance. Among young 
men in their teens and early twenties there may well be a severe conflict 
with the parents which carries over into the work situation. The son often 

Family Ties 125 

wishes to break free of family control but maintain some dependence on 
his family for financial and other types of assistance. However, the par- 
ents, who often have younger children at home, may feel it necessary to 
retain control over the son's behavior as long as he lives in the house. Yet 
they may expect him to take care of himself financially, sometimes to the 
point of contributing to the household. Under these conditions the young 
man may tend to confuse supervisory control with parental control and 
react to his superiors' directions with the same emotionality that he shows 
toward his father. As a result he may have a disruptive effect on the per- 
formance of his work group. He may also refuse to do his share of the 
work out of sheer negativism and may attempt to get even with those he 
considers responsible for infringements on his freedom. When the young 
man finally leaves his parents' home, it is not unusual for performance to 
improve in a striking manner. 

Disruptive effects of conditions in the home are not, of course, 
restricted to young unmarried males. A working wife's success at her job 
may leave her less successful husband so overcome with shame that his 
performance is severely impaired. Every time he approaches the work 
environment, he may be reminded of his own inadequacy. In a different 
case, the family may provide so completely for an individual's needs 
and desires, financial and otherwise, that he sees no necessity for job- 
integrated behavior. Or two brothers may bring their rivalries to the job, 
with detrimental consequences for the performance of one or both. Em- 
ployment of several members of the same family need not lead to diffi- 
culties, of course, but if the family situation is disturbed, hiring several 
members to work in close proximity guarantees the transfer of home prob- 
lems into the work environment. 

The Possibilities for Managerial Action 

The existence of family factors in ineffective performance presents 
special managerial problems which are not easily solved. The locus of the 
difficulty is outside the usual orbit of supervisory control, and it is very 
difficult to accomplish a change. Where a man has some type of family 
crisis and responds with the characteristic grief reaction, there is practi- 
cally nothing that can be done. However, as long as he accepts the pain 
of loss and expresses his sorrow without resorting to extremes, there is 
little need to take action. Usually performance will suffer for a while, 
but as he works through his problems, it will be restored to a satisfactory 
level. The important thing for the manager is to refrain from any harsh 
reactions when the man demonstrates an inability to maintain adequate 
performance. At such times sympathy and understanding are most likely 
to produce the desired result. If the man is of a religious bent, the man- 

126 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ager might recommend that he talk with his minister, priest, or rabbi. 
Above all else, the man must have time to express his emotion and work 
out the problems the crisis has created. Nothing should be done to imply 
that emotional expression is inappropriate or unmanly. 

When more extreme emotional reactions occur, either on a delayed 
basis or immediately after the crisis, every effort should be made to get 
the man professional help. Psychotherapy can achieve cures in such cases 
very rapidly, sometimes after only eight or ten interviews (114). It is 
important, however, that treatment be instituted as soon as possible. If 
an actual psychosis develops, the depressive emotion can often be allevi- 
ated by electric shock therapy. 

If the problem is associated with separation anxiety precipitated by 
being away from either a wife and children or the parental family, the 
most immediately successful approach generally is to restore the man to 
his family as quickly as possible. It is often striking how merely bring- 
ing him home can raise the level of effectiveness. Another possible solu- 
tion is professional treatment to help him adjust to the new job. However, 
this requires time and may not be feasible as long as he continues to 
travel. Also, there are many cases where performance is affected but 
sufficient anxiety is not aroused to motivate the man to seek treatment. 
Under such conditions a return to the family is the only really appropri- 
ate course. If possible, the man should not be told outright that his prob- 
lem is one of homesickness. In many cases he will be aware of it, but not 
in all. To imply that he is a "mama's boy" will accomplish little except 
to undermine further his already shattered self-confidence. 

Unfortunately, transfers home are not always easily accomphshed. 
The man may have been assigned to the job no more than a month or so 
before. In addition, the work may be recognized by the company as un- 
pleasant and thus considered to be a test of fortitude. Many traveling 
jobs are given to new employees with the understanding that as they 
prove themselves they will become eligible for less arduous assignments. 
Similarly, positions in outlying areas or in foreign countries may be allo- 
cated on a rotational basis with everyone taking his turn. When place- 
ment policies of this kind are in force, it is very difficult to bring a man 
back before he has put in his time, especially when he has failed to meet 
the implied test of character. Yet this is the action most likely to restore 
his perforaiance level and permit effective utilization of his talents 
within the organization. 

However, the greatest managerial problem created by a subordinate 
who cannot adjust to separation is the financial one. A man who must be 
returned from a foreign assignment with his family represents a sizable 
monetary loss to his company. So too does a man who has received ex- 
tensive training for his new job. Because of the cost factor, the only really 

Family Ties 127 

satisfactory solution for separation difficulties is their prevention by ade- 
quate screening. Only men who will be able to adapt should be selected 
for jobs involving extensive travel or assignment away from home. This 
whole problem has not received the concentrated research investigation 
it deserves, although studies being carried out in connection with the 
Peace Corps screening program may eventually offer a solution. There 
are, nevertheless, some useful guides to effective screening. 

A man's previous employment history and education can yield valu- 
able clues regarding his reactions to separation. If he has been away from 
home for military service, college, or prior work and has performed ade- 
quately, there is little basis for concern. If there are indications that he 
has not done well while separated but has maintained a satisfactory work 
record when living at home, every effort should be made to obtain de- 
tailed information regarding his previous failures. Transfer from a col- 
lege located in another part of the country to one near home, exception- 
ally short periods of military service, and difficulty in handling sales posi- 
tions requiring extensive travel often prove indicative of difficulties 
involving separation. 

When the man has spent his whole life in close proximity to his family, 
however, this type of analysis has limited value, particularly if he is 
young. There may well have been no special reason for separation to 
occur. On the other hand, a man in his middle thirties who has never 
married and has continued to live with his parents quite possibly may 
experience difficulty in adjusting to separation. Chances are that he has 
had opportunities to live away from his family and rejected these in fa- 
vor of his present way of life. Similarly, people who seem quite resistant 
to travel or who are obviously upset at the prospect of an out-of-town as- 
signment should not be selected. Frequently they will produce a large 
number of excuses, none of which is really very convincing. Rarely will 
they admit even to themselves that the very thought of separation makes 
them anxious. 

A supervisory challenge even greater than the problems caused by sep- 
aration is the case of the man who remains isolated, without close family 
or friendship ties. If his performance is adequate, which it may well 
be, there is little justification for managerial action. In addition, such peo- 
ple may remain equally isolated at work, making it difficult for a superior 
to find out about their lives off the job. Yet anything that can be done 
to increase participation in group activities may pay off. If the vulnerabil- 
ity of these people can be reduced by providing them with close personal 
relationships, they are much less likely to suffer subsequent performance 
failures. There are, of course, limits to what can be accomplished; cer- 
tainly management should not assume the role of a social introduction 
service. Anything that might be considered an intrusion into the personal 

128 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

affairs of a satisfactory employee should be avoided. Yet there are some 
things that can be done. These will be taken up in the following chapter 
on social factors at the workplace. 

In cases where family demands have assumed such a dominant posi- 
tion that job requirements are not fulfilled, the usual approach has been 
to call the man in for at least one talk and probably for several. He is 
told that he will have to devote more time and energy to his job, become 
more cooperative in accepting extra assignments, and stop running home 
whenever he receives a call. Although these talks generally do no harm 
and may be a necessary preliminary to more drastic action, they rarely 
help for more than a brief period. The reason is that the wife or other 
family member responsible for the demands customarily initiates a simi- 
lar series of talks. The job and family pressures thus cancel out, and the 
situation remains unchanged. Contacting family members directly, in the 
hope of eliciting a more favorable attitude toward the subordinate's job, 
rarely accomplishes much either. Unless this is initiated with the assist- 
ance and approval of the employee himself, it may be expected to do 
more harm than good because of the resentments it will arouse. Unfor- 
tunately, managers are rarely in a position to alter a family situation. 
As a result it may be impossible to solve this type of problem, and the 
man may have to be fired. Transfer to another job will accomplish noth- 
ing, since the difficulties stem from factors outside the place of work. 

Emotional upsets which result from separation and which occur in 
family members other than the employee present a different problem. 
There is no particular reason for the company to become directly in- 
volved unless there is some effect on performance or a request for trans- 
fer. Although these situations present many individual variations, it is 
still generally true that psychotherapy and psychiatric treatment are 
more appropriate when severe separation reactions occur in other family 
members than when they affect the employee himself. If treatment is in- 
itiated, the very fact that something is being done about the family 
situation may eliminate any immediate problems on the job. The time 
required for cure usually has little significance for the man's perform- 
ance. Having turned over responsibility for the problem to a qualified 
practitioner, he will usually feel free to concentrate on his work. Where 
professional help is not available or feasible and the man's performance 
is suffering, a decision will, of course, have to be reached about whether 
to restore family unity through transfer. As a rule, if such a change is 
made the wife or other family member will become less disturbed and 
the resulting performance difficulties will be alleviated. 

As with separation problems in employees, the ideal way to handle a 
separation reaction in the rest of the family is to prevent it by screening. 
Certainly when a company is preparing to invest thousands of dollars in 

Family Ties 129 

moving a man and his family to a foreign country, it is apporpriate to take 
every precaution. Some representative of the company should talk to the 
wife and determine how she feels about the move. Problems of separa- 
tion should be explored, and if the company has developed special screen- 
ing devices, these should be employed. Such procedures are entirely ap- 
propriate, since they relate directly to matters of performance and organi- 
zational objectives. Many large corporations continue to lose sizable sums 
of money year after year because of the necessity of returning employees 
to their homes from foreign assignments. Contacts with family members 
should, of course, always be made with the approval and assistance of 
the employee. 

One of the most difficult aspects of the management of ineflFective per- 
formance which is attributable to family factors is that the manager may 
not learn the source of the trouble. Many continuing conflicts and ill 
nesses at home do not become known to the man's superior for years, 
if ever. In a typical case, an employee with a lengthy record of job fail- 
ure remained married to a chronic alcoholic, who over the years was 
repeatedly hospitalized for her condition. Ashamed of his family prob- 
lems, the man continued to worry in silence. He retained his job only be- 
cause his department had a policy that no one should be fired except for 
disciplinary reasons. Finally, in a period of economic recession this policy 
was reversed, and the man came up for dismissal. Only then was the alco- 
holism of his wife brought to the attention of management. 

When such problems can be unearthed, it is often possible to take ef- 
fective action. Subordinates whose performance has been influenced by 
an emotional disturbance at home can be helped to obtain treatment for 
the affected person. Young men who have troubles because of conflicts 
with parents can be offered attractive positions which require them to 
live away from home. Men whose problems stem from working in close 
proximity to other family members can be shifted to more distant loca- 
tions. Striking improvements will almost invariably occur if the diagno- 
sis is correct and if appropriate action is taken soon enough. Accomplish- 
ments of this kind can be one of the greatest sources of satisfaction in 
managerial work. 



Just as a man's various family groups may influence his 
performance on the job, so too may his relationships with people at work. 
For most people the employment situation contains only one significant 
group, which consists of all subordinates working under a single super- 
visor and the supervisor himself. Within management, however, this sim- 
plicity is not maintained. The manager is a member both of the group 
which he directs and of a group containing himself, his immediate supe- 
rior, and the other managers reporting to that superior. Further com- 
plexity is added to work groups by staff personnel and men with ro- 
tating assignments, who may become group members for varying pe- 
riods. In addition, there are instances where organization charts show 
either more or fewer levels of supervision than actually exist. A man may 
be listed as in charge of a group but have all his subordinates reporting 
directly to the person above him. He is in fact only a particularly well- 
paid member of a group directed by his superior. Such situations are 
common where direct line assistants are employed. They also occur un- 
der certain conditions in large staff departments. In production and cler- 
ical units, on the other hand, group leaders and others with work-guid- 
ance duties may actually constitute a level of supervision even though it 
is not formally recognized. 

Work groups in the business world have certain special characteristics 
which condition their influence on the performance of their members. 
They are, for one thing, constituted primarily on a nonvoluntary basis. 
It is true that people can resign or sometimes use the threat of resigna- 
tion to obtain a transfer to another group. But in the initial placement 
other members of the group are rarely asked for their opinion, and the 
man himself, although provided with information regarding the job, 
often knows nothing about the people with whom he will be associated. 
Similarly, leadership is imposed from outside. The manager is not elected 
as he might be in a club or political party but selected by individuals ex- 
ternal to the group. Although these involuntary aspects may well result 


132 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

in a more effective group than otherwise, they can also have the opposite 

Another characteristic of work groups in business is that the extent of 
the members' association is hmited. In contrast to the armed services, for 
instance, the man in industry usually remains with his group for only a 
part of the day and is separated from it over the weekend. Close contact 
with families tends to be maintained, and other stable social relation- 
ships exist as well. Thus, groups at work do not have the crucial signifi- 
cance they might otherwise possess. 

These distinctive aspects will be frequently in evidence during the dis- 
cussion of ways in which groups at work may become strategic for inef- 
fective performance. The initial section will focus on the degree to which 
there is a sense of emotional closeness or cohesion and on how this may 
contribute to the failure of individual members or even of the group as a 
whole. Although a lack of cohesion may introduce many managerial 
problems, its presence can also be a source of trouble. Next, the behav- 
ior of the man in charge of the group and the ways in which he may con- 
tribute to ineffectiveness will be discussed. A considerable body of re- 
search has developed in this area, but the findings do not always fit neatly 
together. An attempt will be made to introduce some integrating con- 
cepts which, although admittedly rough, should make it easier to apply 
the research results to practical problems of performance. A special sec- 
tion will be devoted to the inappropriate criteria and standards which 
some managers employ in reaching decisions on ineffectiveness. This is 
the case of ineffectiveness by definition only, which was mentioned briefly 
in Chapter 1. Finally, as in preceding chapters, the last section will take 
up the techniques and approaches that can be used to achieve an effec- 
tive level of performance. 

The Cohesion of the Group 

Although much has been written about the characteristics and func- 
tioning of groups, no attempt will be made to provide a comprehensive 
review of this material. In many instances it has Umited relevance for the 
study of performance, being concerned with such matters as how groups 
select their leaders, establish their goals, provide for communication 
among members, etc. The reader who would hke information on research 
in the general area of group dynamics can easily find it in the more tech- 
nical reviews of the literature ( 115, 118, 138) . 

The matter of cohesion, however, is directly relevant for our purposes. 
Groups differ markedly in the extent to which they function as a unit. 
In some, the members want to be with each other. They experience a 
sense of emotional closeness which makes them stick together even when 

The Groups at Work 133 

external pressures are working toward dismemberment of the group. In 
others, although a group exists in a formal sense, it is really nothing more 
than a collection of individuals. No particular unity of behavior exists. 
The members go their own ways with little sense of pride in their group 
and little reason to prefer their present associations to others that might 
become available. 

The presence of cohesion in a group need not result from an identity 
of motives among the members, but all must have some desire or need 
which makes the group attractive. Some may see the process of associa- 
tion with certain individuals as providing a source of pleasure. They an- 
ticipate happiness in connection with social interaction and so are drawn 
to the others. Various types of negative motivation may also operate. 
One series of studies indicates that attractions can derive from a desire 
to avoid or reduce fear or from a wish to evaluate one's own feelings in a 
disturbing situation ( 134 ) . 

Where the group contains many members who are not either positively 
or negatively motivated toward social relationships, cohesion will of 
course be at a minimum. Similarly, if the group consistently fails to pro- 
vide what is desired, it will become unattractive to its members, and only 
a collection of individuals will remain. A group will not necessarily 
lack cohesion just because it is geographically dispersed and unable to 
gather except on rare occasions. Some sales groups maintain a high de- 
gree of cohesion in spite of the fact that the members meet infrequently. 
The crucial factors are the predominance of certain kinds of social mo- 
tives and the capacity of the group to provide emotionally for its mem- 

It is appropriate to ask whether from a managerial viewpoint this 
type of closeness and emotional unity is desirable. It has often been as- 
sumed that too much cohesiveness will provide a fertile ground for or- 
ganizing attempts and union activity. Therefore, it has been argued, 
individualism rather than group consciousness should be encouraged. 
This viewpoint appears to be valid under some circumstances. But 
there is additional evidence suggesting that management may benefit in 
certain important respects when cohesiveness and a sense of pride exist 
in its work groups. 

Cohesive groups are by their very nature resistant to disintegration. 
Because people in such groups want to be with the others, separations 
are likely to be at a minimum and absenteeism low. In contrast, where 
cohesion is lacking there is a built-in potential for conflict and disruption. 
Members have little to prevent them from bickering, and under extreme 
conditions the result may be almost total dissolution. Although the unit 
remains on the organization chart, its makeup changes drastically as old 
members leave and replacements are hired. Sometimes the group does 

134 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

disappear completely as a result of a reorganization. Torn by strife,~it is 
in no position to demonstrate its value to the organization. This is most 
likely to happen to certain specialized staff groups which often find it 
difficult to show a definite monetary contribution. 

Aside from such total abolition, however, a lack of cohesion will gen- 
erally result in group dissolution only when alternative positions are read- 
ily available to the members. Units containing a high proportion of staff 
specialists, technicians, and others with skills which are in demand and 
easily transferable are particularly vulnerable. University departments 
are traditionally subject to this effect. So too are certain research and 
development groups in industry. In some of these the turnover rates can 
become unbelievably high. 

Cohesiveness can also provide a valuable antidote to emotional dis- 
turbance. Some employees are able to maintain an adequate emotional 
adjustment, and thus a satisfactory level of performance, only because 
of the support they receive from fellow workers. Some are helped 
through crisis situations which might otherwise have been severely dis- 
ruptive. It has already been noted that the vulnerability of the isolated 
person is mitigated by close social relationships. Physically handicapped 
and somewhat intellectually deficient individuals may also be helped 
by fellow members of a cohesive group. Such assistance will be lacking 
in a group where everyone operates as an individual with little concern 
for other members. In the cohesive group specialized job knowledge will 
be shared, and sometimes new members will receive help with their work 
during the learning period. If the work is emotionally demanding, the 
support of close group relationships can be crucial for all members. In 
military combat, for example, buddy and squad ties are often instru- 
mental in maintaining performance. Similar effects are evident in danger- 
ous industrial work. 

Although the relationships between cohesion and the quality and 
quantity of performance are complex, one consequence is evident. The 
cohesive group is much more likely to respond effectively to emergency 
work demands. In such a situation some members will work because of 
pride in their group and other such positive motives; others will work 
because they wish to avoid being condemned for not doing their share. 
Where unity is lacking, some members will respond to emergency de- 
mands but others may not. Group pressures will not operate, and the 
total effort will be less. Thus the manager who can rely on the unifying 
effects of group pride and teamwork has a distinct advantage in meeting 
special production schedules. 

It is evident, however, that cohesion within a group need not result 
in continuing high levels of productivity. Enough instances of so-called 
restriction of output have now been studied to make it clear that em- 

The Groups at Work 135 

ployees can band together to keep production down ( 141 ) . In fact, it is 
through their sense of unity that they are able to exercise negative sanc- 
tions against wayward members who may attempt to rise above accepted 
standards of output. Laboratoiy studies (116) indicate that very cohe- 
sive groups will develop high levels of production if increased output 
becomes a group goal. But if low group standards are imposed, output 
falls off sharply. In noncohesive groups, standards of this kind have no 
long-term effect at all. 

Clearly the cohesive group has a potential for both very high and very 
low levels of effectiveness. In any case, output will tend to be uniform 
throughout the group (135). In contrast, less cohesive groups will dis- 
play a much greater range in performance. The effect of cohesive group 
pressures and assistance may well be that many who might otherwise 
fail because of individual strategic factors, especially those of a motiva- 
tional and emotional nature, are pulled above a minimally satisfactory 
level. On the other hand, where for some reason the group is in opposi- 
tion to company objectives, a great many members may be pushed into 
ineffectiveness. Performance may also drop to rather low levels when the 
cohesive group is not given any reason to set adequate output standards 
— that is, when there is a general aura of happiness, friendliness, and 
overpermissiveness permeating the organization. This subject will be 
taken up at some length in Chapter 8. 

There is reason to believe that strong cohesiveness and group pride 
are more likely to result in above-average output than in the opposite. 
In the majority of cases team spirit of this kind appears to be a deterrent 
to large-scale ineffectiveness within the group (130). This is particularly 
true when the members feel a sense of security and trust in the company 
— when they have a favorable attitude toward their superiors and the 
firm, and see company representatives, and not the union, as the major 
source of assistance in time of difficulty (135). Similarly, under these 
conditions of trust and security, strikes and slowdowns will be at a mini- 
mum. It is when group members have a negative attitude toward the 
company and distrust its representatives that strong cohesion is likely to 
be coupled with low group performance. It is then that an excessive 
number of ineffective performers emerge. 

Apparently, there are certain circumstances which tend to foster group 
cohesiveness and others which almost guarantee that it will be lacking. 
Many are outside the control of the individual manager. There are real 
limitations on what can be done to influence the degree of closeness 
within a group once the membership has been established. One writer 
(117) has suggested several conditions for cohesion, and a number of 
these have received the support of research evidence. Among them is 
the suggestion that a group containing primarily skilled workers will tend 

136 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

to be cohesive — a proposal which, research indicates, can be general- 
ized to cover occupational prestige as a whole. The more generally es- 
teemed the jobs within a group, the more probable it is that team spirit 
and pride will develop ( 135 ) . 

Cohesion can also be expected where the work is performed in a rela- 
tively small and long-established community. A recent study of ware- 
housing operations in the McKesson and Robbins Company revealed 
that both overall employee satisfaction and the quantity of work pro- 
duced were higher in small-town locations ( 128 ) . It seems probable that 
the heterogeneity of large urban populations tends to reduce the likeli- 
hood of cohesion. Certainly under such conditions negative attitudes 
toward the company are more apt to appear. Thus when cohesiveness 
does occur in large-city groups, there is a better chance that it will be 
associated with low output standards. 

Casual and part-time workers also serve as a potential deterrent to 
emotional closeness. When the group contains many employees who 
come and go as a result of seasonal or other demands, unity is disrupted. 
Frequent layoffs would appear to have the same effect. Some stability 
of membership is a necessary condition for cohesion. Research indi- 
cates that the presence of a large number of long-service employees tends 
to be associated with a high level of cohesiveness ( 135 ) . 

Married employees may be expected to contribute similarly to the 
closeness of a group. Marriage imposes a certain degree of stability on 
people because of the increased responsibility and the need for main- 
taining continued employment. Age does not seem to be a crucial fac- 
tor, except that older women often form rather cohesive groups. In many 
cases they are attracted to the work situation by the opportunity for so- 
cial interaction which is no longer available at home. 

Other factors contributing to cohesiveness have also been suggested 
( 142 ) . In each instance it has been assumed that homogeneity within the 
group is essential. This assumption has received considerable research 
support from studies conducted outside the business world (115). 
When the members are of the same sex and have similar jobs, ethnic 
affiliations, and social class backgrounds, conditions appear particularly 
favorable for the formation of a unified group. Of course these factors, 
like those previously noted, are often entirely beyond the control of the 
manager. Labor market conditions and many other considerations may 
well take precedence over the matter of maximizing the chances for cohe- 

It has already been noted that under certain conditions cohesion can 
contribute to a high incidence of ineffectiveness. Unfortunately, this 
does not complete the story. There are also cases where it is directly re- 
sponsible for failure. Studies make it clear that cohesive groups are ca- 

The Groups at Work 137 

pable of rejecting and ostracizing individuals who are in some way 
deviant (118). The process can be observed in experimental situations 
where nonconformity is artificially created. Such rejection may have no 
impact on performance, of course. In fact, there are conditions under 
which it may increase effectiveness: The man may be freed of the control 
imposed by low group standards and may rise to a much higher level of 
productivity. On other occasions, however, the negative impact of ostra- 
cism is sizable. Strong social motives are suddenly frustrated, with the 
result that the man either gives up in his efforts to achieve satisfactions 
through job-integrated means or responds with emotional reactions 
which are detrimental to performance. It is not uncommon for a person 
to become so worried and upset about his relationship to the group 
that he cannot concentrate on his work at all. Or he may spend all his 
time trying to figure out ways of getting group acceptance. Turnover 
among such people is likely to be high. 

The bases for rejection are many. The man may have unpopular 
opinions or a personality which is not pleasing to the others. He may be 
a known homosexual or have a prison record. He may come from a dif- 
ferent socioeconomic or ethnic background. The writer knows of one 
case in which a company experimented with hiring young management 
trainees in a certain department. The new college graduates were ro- 
tated from assignment to assignment so that they could learn the various 
aspects of the business and thus qualify themselves for promotion into 
responsible positions. Yet within three years all but one of a sizable origi- 
nal group had left the company, and that one was working in another 
department. The management trainees had been consistently ostra- 
cized by the existing lower and middle management organization. Con- 
sidered a group of young "prima donnas," they were denied access to 
information and treated much as school children treat a teacher s pet. 
Some quit because they realized they were getting nowhere. Others were 
so upset by their unexpected reception that they never did attain accept- 
able performance levels and eventually were fired. 

Actually, something very similar happens whenever a new member is 
introduced into a cohesive work group. There is a period of mutual eval 
nation during which the man, although usually treated cordially, is made 
to feel very much an outsider. In most cases the new man decides he 
wants to be accepted by the group long before the group comes to a sim- 
ilar conclusion regarding him. The group's need for a member is not 
nearly as strong as the new man's need for the group. He may receive 
help with his work in order to ensure that the accepted performance 
standards are maintained, but he will be left out of many other activi- 
ties. Some men, inexperienced in such matters, never recover from the 
effects of this initial cold shoulder. Most companies refrain from evalu- 

138 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ating an employee on anything but a tentative basis for the first three 
to six months, because they assume that he may require a certain amount 
of practice to reach a satisfactory performance level. However, this is 
not the only factor contributing to performance deficiencies in a new 
man. He is also working under conditions of at least partial ostracism and 
is likely to be devoting his time and thought to ways of gaining group 
acceptance. He cannot concentrate on his work to the extent that would 
be possible if these social problems had been solved. 

In certain firms a number of utility workers are employed who are 
rotated from group to group in accordance with changing work loads, 
vacation schedules, disability leaves, and the like. They never stay in one 
place very long, and no one expects them to settle into any group on a 
permanent basis. As a result they are always "new men" and subject to 
ostracism. Some people like the challenge involved and respond well 
to it. But for those to whom group membership and acceptance is impor- 
tant, it is very disturbing. Some potentially effective workers are inca- 
pable of handling rotating assignments for this reason. 

Occasionally, the shoe is on the other foot and a man actively rejects 
his fellow workers. This need not have a negative effect on his perform- 
ance. When a negative effect does occur, however, motivational factors 
are commonly involved. Usually the man feels ashamed of his association 
with the others or considers the group members reprehensible in some 
respect. He wants badly to get away from the whole situation and at- 
tempts to deny any relationship with the other men. Status considera- 
tions often figure strongly in his motivational hierarchy. Disturbed, and 
perhaps ashamed of his group, he is also deprived of the opportunity for 
assistance that integration might have provided. In addition, pressures 
to attain standards of work output acceptable to the others will have no 
effect on him. Because he is upset and because he considers good work 
in such a social context not worth striving for, he may fail. 

Another type of problem arises not because of rejection, but because 
of unfortunate side effects of acceptance. A cohesive group is protective 
of its members and above all else, loyal. This loyalty may be misplaced 
from a managerial viewpoint and from the man's, too. The characteristic 
difficulty in identifying alcoholic subordinates has already been dis- 
cussed. Similar protective efforts may occur in any case where a man's 
performance has declined and the group members believe he is in danger 
of being fired if discovered. Out of the best intentions, the others may 
cover up for someone who is almost incapable of performing his duties. 
They may well do much of his work for him. Many cases of severe emo- 
tional disorder have gone undetected and untreated for this reason. 
Aside from any disadvantages for the company, this type of misplaced 
loyalty can result in accidents, suicide, unnecessary prolongation of ill- 

The Groups at Work 139 

nesses, and death due to alcoholism. The consequences for the man him- 
self can be severe. 

Another such side effect of cohesion will be covered in more detail in 
the following section. This is the group pressures which may be exerted 
on those with managerial responsibilities to place the objectives of the 
group above those of the organization. As a result the manager himself 
may become so immersed in protecting certain of his subordinates that 
he does nothing to restore them to effective performance. As in all cases 
of misplaced group loyalty, the group's cohesiveness thus generates pres- 
sures which contribute to individual failure. In a less cohesive group the 
same manager, free of concerted appeals to his loyalty, might feel able 
to take appropriate action with his subordinates. 

A cohesive group may, of course, have effects on its members similar 
to the effects of the family which were discussed in Chapter 6, although, 
because groups at work are less close emotionally, such cases are rare. 
Sometimes severe physical illnesses will set off anxiety neuroses among 
fellow workers. A fatal heart attack is particularly likely to provoke such 
conditions (137). Although these emotional disorders often differ in 
both content and causation from the crisis reactions described in Chap- 
ter 6, some are very similar. Separation from a work group may also pre- 
cipitate emotional and motivational disturbances, although this is rare. 
Industrial work groups do not ordinarily maintain close associations long 
enough to take on a role similar to the family. Military groups, on the 
other hand, with their twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week rela- 
tionships, often do. 

Ineffective Management 

The manager cannot restrict his search for the causes of failure to the 
specific employee, the man's family, and other subordinates at the work- 
place. It may well be that he himself is the strategic factor. This means 
that in carrying out a performance analysis, those with supervisory re- 
sponsibilities must look at the nature of their own influence on people 
under them. It is evident that without being aware of it, a manager can 
act so as to reinforce subordinate behavior which is not integrated with 
the job. He may, for instance, want above all else to foster high levels of 
performance in his group, but consistently recommend men for promo- 
tion on the basis of seniority (126). His subordinates will easily recog- 
nize that they can get ahead as fast with poor performance as with supe- 
rior, but the manager may find it harder to see the inconsistency 
between his intentions and his behavior. Recognizing one's own contribu- 
tions to ineffectiveness is probably the most difficult aspect of perform- 
ance analysis. 

140 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

What kinds of managerial actions can become strategic for the failure 
of a subordinate? The question is not easily answered, although much 
research has been devoted to it. This section will review the general re- 
sults of such studies, some of which may be familiar to the reader, and 
then return to the basic question. 

The most extensive investigations have been conducted by researchers 
at the University of Michigan over the past fifteen years in a variety of 
firms, including the Prudential Insurance Company, the Chesapeake and 
Ohio Railroad, the Caterpillar Tractor Company, and the Detroit Edi- 
son Company (127, 130). One finding was that groups led by managers 
who spend most of their time doing nonsupervisory tasks are likely to 
have an excess of low producers. The factory supervisor who is fre- 
quently seen operating a machine alongside his men and the accounting 
manager who consistently pitches in and helps with routine paper work 
do not have time to plan the work of their units, perform special techni- 
cal tasks, provide materials for their men, observe the performance of the 
group, and motivate their subordinates. Certainly they cannot devote 
the necessary energy to performance analysis. They abdicate from the 
leadership role, and their groups are usually less eflFective. 

A second type of behavior which tended to reduce productivity was 
very close supervision. Some degree of delegation, permitting subordinates 
the freedom to carry out tasks in their own way, is apparently desirable 
in stimulating efiFective performance. If a manager hovers over his man 
giving them detailed and frequently repeated instructions regarding 
every aspect of their work, he wiU almost invariably produce some per- 
formance failures. 

Similarly, and this may be the same man, some superiors in the studies 
seemed to have little concern for their people as human beings. Such 
men give the impression to those under them that they do not care 
whether their subordinates live or die as long as the work gets out. They 
maintain an unreasonable pressure for production without any resort to 
ordinary kindness. It is presumably this last factor, and not the emphasis 
on work standards per se, which contributes to the relatively poor per- 
formance of their groups. Managers of this type are very unpopular. 
They take a punitive attitude whenever a mistake is made, do not train 
their subordinates for better jobs, rarely praise anyone, exhibit no inter- 
est in talking over problems, and tend to neglect any special requests 
their men may make of them. In short they are rather unpleasant peo- 
ple to deal with, at least insofar as the work situation is concerned. This 
kind of disagreeableness from a person in a position of authority can be 
very upsetting to some people. It can make subordinates terribly angry 
or scared, or it can leave them so lacking in appropriate motivation that 
they are incapable of satisfactory work. 

The Groups at Work 141 

The significance of the last two findings from the University of Michi- 
gan research is dramatized by the results of another study which dealt 
with the reasons for breakdown in ninety-one cases among industrial 
employees (137). The patients ranged from unskilled workers to vice- 
presidents. Fifty-four percent of the disorders were attributable to ex- 
tended exposure to the kind of supervision described above. These indi- 
viduals worked for supervisors who constantly demanded and never 
praised, who shouted at their men, who were sarcastic and abusive, who 
often employed ridicule, and who checked on every detail of perform- 
ance, usually with continuing criticism. 

A fourth conclusion from the University of Michigan studies suggests, 
however, that the manager who has none of these faults will still gain 
little from his efforts unless he can exercise some influence with his own 
superiors. If he cannot get support for his actions up the line, a manager 
is unlikely to make much difference in his group. Being a kind person 
who has the interests of his men at heart will not alone enable him to 
assume leadership and influence productivity. A promised change in 
work standards which never occurs, a merit increase which is cut in half 
at higher levels, an attempted addition to staff which never materializes 
— these only demonstrate to the group that the boss cannot be of much 

Such situations frequently develop because the man in charge makes 
no attempt to exert influence up the line. He fails to make a case for his 
viewpoint and suffers the consequences. But the studies also indicate that 
the manager who is himself closely supervised, who is rigidly controlled 
from above, is much more likely to have an unproductive group than the 
manager who is permitted more freedom to take actions which make a 
difference to his men. Probably the same can be said for union control. 
Where the union has been permitted to assume many normal supervisory 
responsibilities, and where it exerts so much influence over first line super- 
visors that they have little power of their own left, the supervisors be- 
come nonentities to their subordinates. They have not abdicated the 
leadership role; it has been taken away from them through a series of 
historical events — contract negotiations, arbitration awards, committee 
meetings, grievance settlements, the weight of established practice. 

The fifth factor observed in the University of Michigan studies is obvi- 
ous from what has already been said. The manager must assume an ac- 
tive leadership role if he is to have any impact on the productivity of his 
men. If he does not but rather adopts a passive, laissez-faire attitude, he 
will be ignored and anything he might do to counteract performance 
failure is wasted. Other forces in the group will determine performance 
levels, and a major influence for effectiveness will be lost. 

Questions similar to those employed in the Michigan studies have 

142 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

been used in another research project at Ohio State University. As a re- 
sult of detailed statistical analyses the Ohio State investigators concluded 
that the behavior of managers in relation to their subordinates can be 
adequately described in terms of only tw^o factors or dimensions. Al- 
though there were exceptions, in general the managers with the least 
eflFective work groups were those who rated below average in both di- 
mensions (136,139). 

The studies indicate that men who are inconsiderate of their subordi- 
nates are very likely to have a negative effect on them. Such managers 
are overdemanding and excessively critical. They "ride" their subordi- 
nates, fail to consult them about things before acting, and refuse to ac- 
cept suggestions or explain their actions. They rarely do favors for their 
men or look out for their personal welfare. They do not have time to listen 
to their problems. In short, they appear completely unconcerned about 
the feelings of the people around them. 

The second dimension deals more specifically with the matter of get- 
ting the work out. The manager who does not accept his responsibility 
in this respect usually has a poor group. He puts little emphasis on fol- 
lowing regulations and maintaining standards of performance, and gives 
the impression of being just one more member of the group. Since he 
does not accept a leadership role, he rarely assigns work to anyone or 
takes a definite position on anything. Planning is neglected, and there 
is little concern with organizing the work of the group to accomplish 
company objectives. 

Although such a failure to accept the managerial role can be expected 
to result in a number of subordinates falling below acceptable quantity 
and quality standards, there is evidence from other research that the ef- 
fects on turnover may be favorable. Also, grievances are likely to decrease 
under such conditions (122). Thus, when we note that effectiveness is 
generally reduced by the essential abdication of the manager, what 
amounts to a weighted average of all aspects of performance is implied. 
Any specific aspect may be affected quite differently. 

The reader may have noted the rough similarity between these find- 
ings and those of the University of Michigan studies. The first factor de- 
scribed by the Michigan researchers sounds very much like a failure to 
accept the managerial role. The man spends most of his time doing 
exactly the same work as his subordinates. The second and third factors, 
too close supervision and a lack of concern for subordinates, seem simi- 
lar to what the Ohio State people describe as a lack of consideration. 
The fourth factor, involving as it does the capacity to exercise influence 
up the line and gain support for one's actions, certainly requires an ac- 
tive acceptance of the managerial role. So too does exerting influence and 
making a difference in the work group itself. 

The Groups at Work 143 

Comparison shows that the findings from the University of Michigan 
and Ohio State investigations have much in common. The Ohio State 
studies, employing somewhat more refined questionnaire techniques, 
reduced the number of strategic factors from five to two, but the conclu- 
sions are roughly similar. Other independent research efforts have re- 
sulted in parallel findings. Studies at the International Harvester Com- 
pany conducted by Purdue University psychologists yielded evidence of 
a very high relationship between scores on a questionnaire administered 
to members of fourteen work groups and the productivity of the groups 
(129). The questionnaire appears to have measured managerial consid- 
erateness primarily. Thus, once again a lack of concern for subordinates 
is found associated with reduced effectiveness. 

In another study, conducted at a United States Steel Company plant 
by University of Illinois psychologists, a manager's ability and willing- 
ness to discriminate between good and poor workers was found to be 
closely related to the productivity of open-hearth shops (119, 121). 
Those in charge of the less effective groups tended to describe good work- 
ers they had known in the past in much the same terms as they described 
poor workers. They did not make the discriminations on the basis of per- 
formance effectiveness that supervisory work seems to call for. Rather, 
they exhibited feelings of closeness, acceptance, and warmth even to- 
ward those who were performance failures. Such people might be 
expected to avoid establishing and maintaining work standards or assign- 
ing duties. They are too close to their men, too much "one of the boys." 
In essence, they have difficulty in assuming a managerial role. 

In general, these studies have dealt with managerial actions which 
decrease the effectiveness of a group as a whole. It seems safe to assume 
that in most cases the less productive groups will have more ineffective 
performers. Certainly anyone who has had experience in dealing with 
performance problems in industry has seen many cases where either a 
manager's neglect of his responsibilities or his lack of consideration has 
proved strategic for failure. 

When management members do not accept their role in the organiza- 
tion, when they do not organize and coordinate the work of their subor- 
dinates, a number of consequences almost invariably follow. Many of 
these occur whether the managerial deficiency is attributable entirely to 
the man himself, or results largely from overcontrol from above (by 
higher management) or below (by the union). One such consequence is 
that performance analyses are generally not made and acted upon. This 
lack of action is particularly unfortunate in cases where motivational 
factors are strategic. In such circumstances, as was noted in Chapter 4, 
active intervention on the part of the manager is usually required if per- 
formance levels are to be raised. The manager must take steps to frustrate 

144 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

unintegrated behavior, establish standards, and provide satisfactions 
within the job context. A group which is under the supervision of a man 
who does not perform his role is likely to contain a high proportion of 
people who are failing because of motivational problems. 

Another consequence of a manager's failure to accept leadership is 
that decisions preliminary to organizing the work of the group are apt 
to be neglected. Many such managers feel uncomfortable about reach- 
ing conclusions on their own and assuming responsibility for errors of 
judgment. Accordingly they spend long periods of time collecting the 
opinions of others. If unanimity cannot be obtained, they put off the 
decision indefinitely. They want everyone to agree, so that the blame 
for failure can be shared with as many people as possible ( 124 ) . Validity 
of decision thus becomes distinctly secondary to the matter of obtaining 

Because groups at work almost always feel the need for some direc- 
tion, in these circumstances of managerial abdication an informal leader 
will usually emerge. Such a person may or may not be capable of lead- 
ership; he may only be the oldest, or the most vociferous. In any event, 
he is unlikely to have a primary commitment to organizational goals. 
Furthermore, he lacks access to formal channels of communication, and 
it is very difficult for him to represent the group upward or to exert influ- 
ence in the larger organization. The result can be chaos, with the whole 
group falling below acceptable standards of performance. 

Informal leadership need not, of course, be caused only by managerial 
abdication. It can also develop whenever the objectives of the group 
become too divergent from those of management. Any time a manager 
refuses to take into account important desires of his subordinates, and 
to satisfy them at least partially, he runs the risk of having to deal with 
a group member who has been selected to champion these motives. 
Union representation may be expected to arise out of just such a dis- 
parity between group and managerial objectives. The shop steward, 
originally an informal leader, has now achieved a more formal status, 
and with it the very real possibility that he may represent the goals of 
international unionism far more than the goals of the workers themselves. 
The result can be the development of still another system of informal 
leadership designed to represent the group against both management 
and the union. 

Probably one of the major reasons why the inconsiderate manager so 
often has a relatively unproductive group is that his behavior frustrates 
important desires for a sense of dignity and freedom from anxiety. Cer- 
tainly people who are strongly motivated to achieve acceptance and at- 
tention from their superiors are very likely to become ineffective under a 
critical and rejecting manager. In such cases informal leadership arises 

The Groups at Work 145 

largely to serve a protective function. Even if it succeeds in this, how- 
ever, it may be at the expense of any group concern for effective perform- 

The inconsiderate manager may also contribute to performance failure 
as a result of taking a stereotyped view of the appropriate methods for 
handling people whose work is unsatisfactory. If, as so often happens, he 
assumes that all the men need is a little more discipline and knocking 
into shape, he may occasionally succeed, because some people do be- 
come ineffective as a consequence of motivational problems which are 
responsive to discipline and the enforcement of standards. Much more 
frequently he will fail and at the same time turn a mild anxiety into a 
severe neurosis or superimpose an emotional disturbance on an existing 
intellectual inadequacy. Corrective action which does not take the causes 
of failure into account is detrimental not only to the individual but 
many times to the company as well. 

Failure by Managerial Definition and the Use 
of Inappropriate Criteria 

Since ineffectiveness is after all basically a matter of managerial or 
organizational definition, there is always the possibility that the cause 
of failure may be imbedded in the evaluative process. The leadership of 
the group may be strategic, not because of actions taken or not taken by 
the man in charge, but because of the way in which the judgment has 
been reached. Standards may be set so high that they are almost impos- 
sible to achieve: A man may be expected to complete a report or produce 
a quantity of work in an unrealistically short time. Similarly, criteria may 
be employed which have no connection with performance as defined 
here: A man may be considered unsatisfactory on the basis of evalua- 
tions which do not relate to organizational objectives. Thus, either inap- 
propriate standards or inappropriate criteria may be used to establish 
ineffectiveness by definition only. 

Since inappropriate criteria present the greatest difficulty, the discus- 
sion will concentrate on this area. Factors such as the degree of emo- 
tional stability, racial or ethnic background, physical attractiveness, 
alcoholic consumption, religion, manner of dress, social standing, treat- 
ment of wife and children, extent of conformity, pleasantness of personal- 
ity, and many others, do on occasion appear in connection with evalua- 
tions. Some are specifically included in management appraisal forms and 
guides to employee rating; others, because of legal and ethical consid- 
erations, are unlikely to be stated in writing, but nevertheless influence 

The greater the number of factors employed to establish ineffective- 

146 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ness, the greater the number of employees who will be labeled problem 
workers. If a firm uses many criteria which have no relation to organiza- 
tional objectives, the eflFort, energy, and expense required to deal with 
the resulting ineflFectiveness will detract from the performance of other 
functions. A company cannot a£Ford to have a high percentage of man- 
agement's time devoted to problems of ineffectiveness which actually are 
not associated with profitability. Firing those who show evidence of fail- 
ing on these nonrelevant bases is not necessarily a solution. As noted in 
Chapter 1, firing is costly, may restrict the available labor market for hir- 
ing purposes, and is often impossible for legal or other reasons. 

Furthermore, there is an ethical issue here similar to one raised by Wil- 
liam H. Whyte in his book The Organization Man (143). In our society 
it is generally held that aspects of behavior and thought which are not 
within the domain of work performance should not serve as a basis for 
judging a man as an employee. Such matters are, in fact, considered 
"none of the company's business" by a large segment of the population. 
Consequently, if a firm attempts to utilize these inappropriate criteria, it 
may well stir up considerable bitterness and anger among employees. Al- 
though there may be times when it is necessary to risk precipitating 
discontent within an organization, it seems doubtful that the attempt to 
introduce inappropriate criteria should be one of these. Most good man- 
agers do not take that kind of risk; they have nothing to gain in terms 
of profitability and everything to lose. 

These strictures are not meant to imply that a manager should never 
take emotional stability, manner of dress, and similar characteristics into 
account in reaching decisions on ineffective performance. Such factors 
may in fact be strategic for performance failure in one or more of the 
four dimensions named in Chapter 1: quality of work, quantity, time 
spent on the job, and cooperation with others in attaining organizational 
goals. If so, they are legitimate causal factors contributing to a type of 
performance which is detrimental to company objectives. They become 
inappropriate only when they have no relationship to actual perform- 

This distinction is an important one, since it is easy to fuse the idea of 
a good person or a friend with that of a good worker, and the idea of a 
bad person or an enemy with that of a poor worker. People tend to make 
global judgments of this kind unless they train themselves to be sensitive 
to the differences between their own goals and those of the firm. A man- 
ager may dislike a group or a specific person, he may wish to have noth- 
ing to do with people of a certain kind, or he may even wish to harm 
them in some way. But if he should substitute these personal goals for 
those of the company and, on the basis of nonrelevant factors, define the 
group or individual as ineffective, he runs the risk of becoming consid- 

The Groups at Work 147 

erably less eflFective himself. This is not merely a subject for debate on 
ethical grounds. It is a matter with practical implications for the opera- 
tion of a business. 

The crucial element — that is, whether or not the criteria are relevant 
to any of the four dimensions of performance effectiveness — is often 
difficult to establish. It is easy for a manager to convince himself that 
some behavior or characteristic of a person might be related to perform- 
ance, or that it could have a negative effect on the firm. Yet bases for 
valid decision making do exist in this area. For one thing, the supervisor 
can profit by the results of research. The evidence presented in Chapter 
3, for instance, demonstrates that emotional instability or disturbance 
does not necessarily produce ineffective performance. The manager who 
has a personal distaste for unstable people can, by keeping this evidence 
in mind, use it to keep his subjective preferences from dominating his 

For another thing, the sizable backlog of experience which a manager 
develops over the years permits commonsense solutions to questions of 
the appropriateness of criteria. If a man is heard to make derogatory 
statements about the company to a group of coworkers, for example, 
there is a good chance that he is engaging in the age-old custom of grip- 
ing—a custom which has become almost institutionalized in military or- 
ganizations. He probably neither intends, nor has, a negative effect on his 
company. Experienced managers know that this kind of "disloyalty" is 
rarely related to performance. There are circumstances under which it 
might be, and under certain conditions it could even be an appropriate 
basis for considering a man totally ineffective, but these would be ex- 
ceptions rather than the rule. The man's superior may be angered by the 
derogatory statements and even develop an intense dislike as a result. 
In such cases, however, the anger and dislike are usually precipitated 
by the man's failure to behave in accordance with his superior's personal 
goals. This differs considerably from a failure to behave in accordance 
with organizational goals. The key question remains: Is there evidence 
that the behavior had sufficient negative impact on performance to jus- 
tify labeling the man a failure? 

To take an example in which there does exist a relationship to perform- 
ance, suppose that a man engaged in the production of delicate instru- 
ments has a high breakage rate and a poor record for quality. If investiga- 
tion reveals that his periods of poor performance tend to occur when he 
has been drinking on the job, alcoholic consumption might legitimately 
be viewed as a contributory factor in the failure even though the man 
never becomes intoxicated. Management is generally considered justified 
in forbidding employees to bring liquor onto company property because 
of just such an eventuality. On the other hand, if a man were to get drunk 

148 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

at a private party attended by several other employees of the company, 
there is little probability that alcoholic consumption, even in this more 
extreme form, could be related to job performance. 

Characteristics of individuals and their behavior v^hich have no real 
relation to performance often come up in connection v^ith promotion, 
as w^ell as performance evaluation. Either the person is not promoted 
because of some such factor, or he is told that if he wants to progress in 
the company, he w^ill have to change. Again, this is appropriate if a rela- 
tionship to performance is present. There is no reason v^hy an organiza- 
tion should put people in responsible positions on any basis other than 
the fact that they will contribute to company objectives. For instance, it 
is inconsistent with the role of business enterprise in our society to expect 
a firm, purely out of humanitarian motives, to promote a member of a 
minority group to a high-level position when better-qualified people are 
available. On the other hand, it is equally inappropriate to refuse promo- 
tion to a competent person on the basis of minority-group membership. 
Yet sometimes such decisions are made. In one case a man resigned from 
his job when he was led to believe that he could never progress in his 
company because of his religion. Subsequently, after a long and distin- 
guished career in government, he was rehired at a fee well above the go- 
ing rate as the same company's major consultant on industry problems. 
In retrospect there seems little question that if actual performance had 
been the sole criterion, this man could have reached a very high level in 
his company and made a major contribution to its success. 

Although a great variety of factors irrelevant to performances may be 
employed in making promotions, the worst offender in this respect is 
probably seniority. At the level of the represented employee, companies 
have in many instances been forced by the unions to accept seniority, or 
else they have found it so difficult to prove that merit differences exist 
between candidates that the seniority principle has in practice been 
applied. Unions have traditionally made every effort to implement sen- 
iority, because it is consistent with their organizational goals. To the 
extent that merit operates as a criterion and the man who is likely to per- 
form most effectively is chosen, there exists a possibility that individual 
bargaining may reassert itself over collective action and the union 
thereby lose control of jobs and members alike. 

Where unions have succeeded in estabhshing the principle of seniority, 
either through contract or by established practice, they have clearly 
achieved their goals at the expense of the company. If promotions are 
consistently based on length of service, profitability will inevitably be 
reduced from what it might have been with performance potential as 
the criterion. A larger number of ineffective performers will be placed 
in the more responsible positions. 

The Groups at Work 149 

Although promotion by seniority may be unavoidable today in jobs 
under union jurisdiction, this is only part of the problem. The fact is that 
many firms apply seniority in the promotion of nonrepresented employ- 
ees and even of those well up into management. In doing so a company 
not only ensures an unnecessarily high incidence of ineflFectiveness, but 
also discourages younger employees who may believe themselves ca- 
pable of progressing at a more rapid rate than seniority would permit. 

Just as the application of inappropriate criteria causes some people to 
be barred from promotion and others to be defined as ineflFective, it 
excludes still others from employment entirely. Sex, race, nationality, 
religion, age, and similar factors are sometimes used to screen out "unde- 
sirables." Where these factors are known to be closely related to job per- 
formance, they should of course be used as criteria. It is the essence of 
our economic system that a firm not only can, but should, employ prac- 
tices which will increase the effectiveness of its work force, and thus con- 
tribute to successful competition for profits. For instance, it is quite 
appropriate to bar females and applicants of advanced age from consid- 
eration for positions requiring heavy manual labor — at least, under nor- 
mal labor-force conditions where more physically capable young men 
can be hired. 

On the other hand, such criteria are sometimes used to guide employ- 
ment practices when there is no evidence of a relationship to job perform- 
ance. Physical characteristics and certain idiosyncrasies of grooming and 
dress are particularly likely to receive undue emphasis. This procedure 
not only puts unnecessary restrictions on the size of the labor force from 
which the company must select employees, but also in some instances 
introduces the possibility that legal controls and product boycotts will 
be invoked. It is usually difficult enough to find employees who have 
the potential for really effective performance without eliminating many 
of these at the outset by using inappropriate criteria. In addition, the 
fair employment practices laws, which exist in some states and cities, and 
certain provisions regulating employment in connection with Federal 
contracts make discrimination in employment a risk even though these 
laws are difficult to enforce. More deleterious in recent years have been 
the boycotts organized by different consumer groups. Certain Negro 
organizations in particular have sometimes precipitated a sizable de- 
crease in the sales of offending firms. 

It has, of course, often been assumed that a change in hiring policy in 
response to these considerations and pressures would disturb the existing 
employees to the point where many might become ineffective. This is a 
real problem and should not be brushed off lightly. As noted previously, 
the fourth dimension in which performance may be evaluated involves 
the influence a man may have on the performance of coworkers. A mem- 

150 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ber of a minority group, for instance, might well be judged ineffective if 
other employees were sufficiently disquieted by his presence to permit 
their work to suffer. 

Experience indicates, however, that this is not common. People may 
become upset and may even give considerable expression to their feel- 
ings, but few will behave over a long period in a manner which would 
make their own dismissal a real possibility. Widespread performance 
decrement is likely only when management indicates that there is no 
possibility of dismissal — that no one will be fired if he becomes ineffec- 
tive because of open hostility to a new employee. Parallel situations oc- 
curred in several states when their governors removed sanctions by an- 
nouncing that school integration would precipitate such violence that the 
state would not have power to control it. When sanctions are withdrawn 
or made ineffective, considerable conflict can break out and deflect em- 
ployees from organizational goals for long periods. 

Such scientific evidence as is available tends to support these positive 
conclusions, although there is likely to be some reduction in group cohe- 
siveness. In one study an organization which had experienced consid- 
erable internal resistance to the hiring of older women was subsequently 
found to accept the practice with a minimum of difficulty and decrement 
in performance (131). During the Korean War the Army dropped its 
policy of segregation with, from all reports, a considerable increase in 
overall efficiency ( 125 ) . Provided that the members are sufficiently dedi- 
cated to organizational goals and that adequate sanctions are maintained, 
it seems clear that a company can hire employees from groups which are 
the object of considerable negative feeling. A short-term drop in overall 
performance is a real possibility, but this will usually be brief. Reduced 
cohesiveness may continue, however, in some instances. If this should be 
the case, the possibility that some indirect negative consequences may 
occur at a later date cannot be completely ruled out. Turnover can in- 
crease and some positive effects of cohesion may be lost. 

Inducing a Positive Group Impact on Performance 

It has been noted that in general group cohesiveness appears to be 
desirable, but that many of the factors which contribute to it are likely 
to be outside managerial control. Although the lack of such a sense of 
emotional closeness need not necessarily be detrimental, groups without 
it are sometimes plagued by bickering and conflict, as well as excessive 
and rapid turnover. Under such conditions overall productivity may 
well be low and the incidence of ineffectiveness ( on motivational grounds 
alone) rather high. Such effects are most easily counteracted by put- 
ting together people who are likely to be friendly, who have strong mo- 

The Groups at Work 151 

tives leading them to seek social activity, and who are attracted to the 
specific work group by some characteristic of it ( such as high status, chal- 
lenging work, etc.). In addition, reducing the size of the group and 
treating the membership as a single unit tend to increase cohesiveness 
(118). Meetings, actions regarding pay, and other managerial procedures 
which are applied only to the individuals in a given group and not to 
other members of the organization can be used to circumscribe the group 
and increase its cohesion. Also, there is evidence that industrial groups 
whose members see themselves as under attack from some external source 
wdll tend to minimize individual competitive activities and draw to- 
gether (79). 

Some of these procedures, such as increasing the number of meetings, 
are activities which the manager himself can institute. Others require 
higher-level approval or cannot be purposefully accomplished at all. In 
many cases cohesiveness as an objective must remain secondary to other 
concerns. Sometimes it is impossible to put together people with the 
requisite job skills who are also suflSciently alike to guarantee an emo- 
tionally close relationship. If a lack of cohesion leads to constant dissen- 
sion, however, and it is clear that the man in charge is not directly respon- 
sible for this state of aflFairs, it may be necessary to reconstitute the group 
through mass shifts of personnel. The self-conscious reshuffling of work 
associations to put people who might be expected to get along with each 
other in the same units has not, to the writer's knowledge, been employed 
extensively in any kind of organization. Yet it does offer a potential solu- 
tion to the problem of the continually strife-torn group. Many athletic 
coaches have employed the technique with considerable success. 

Cohesion, although desirable, is only half the problem, however. As 
has been seen, a group which is in opposition to the company and which 
sets low work standards for its members may be able to enforce these 
standards only because group membership is so important to the indi- 
viduals involved. From a managerial viewpoint, it is important to foster 
not only cohesion, but also as much trust and security in the company as 
possible. To some extent, again, this may be beyond immediate supervi- 
sory control. It may be an organizational matter, of the kind to be dis- 
cussed in the next chapter. But a manager can do certain things to 
minimize opposition to the company just because he represents it to his 
subordinates. Anything which will convince them that promises will be 
kept and that they can expect fair treatment, as well as assistance when 
they need it, will contribute to the goal. In this regard actions always 
speak louder than words. As noted in Chapter 4, if a feeling of trust can 
also be combined with some feeling of participation in the decision-mak- 
ing process, standards may well rise in the group and the effectiveness of 
certain individuals increase ( 72, 90) . 

152 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

When a man is failing because of his reaction to ostracism or is vulner- 
able because of general isolation, the ideal solution is to help him become 
integrated into his groups at work. Yet the manager cannot force the 
group to accept the man, and too obvious attempts to foster acceptance 
will almost invariably result in rebuffs. Groups reserve unto themselves 
the right to make membership decisions, and tlie members usually resent 
efforts to force this process. The most that mav be possible is to place the 
man in close proximitA" with some member who is esteemed by the others 
and then to hope for the best. Team assignments where the two are forced 
to work together can be particularly helpful. If the esteemed man should 
come to like the other, this may pave the way for group acceptance. Such 
procedures are particularly effective in speeding up the process of inte- 
grating new employees. 

Yet there is httle point in being overly optimistic about the practical 
value of using work-organizing and guiding prerogatives as a means of 
fostering acceptance by a cohesive group. More often than not, these at- 
tempts fail. When this happens, and when the man is clearly ineffective 
as a result of his rejection, the only answer is to transfer him to a job in a 
group where there is a greater likelihood of his being received with ap- 
proval. The crucial point is to determine exactly what it is about him that 
has caused his rejection. Then if it is possible, a group must be found in 
which his job skills are applicable and which is unlikely to ostracize 
him. This may be as simple as taking a recent emigre from a rural area 
out of a group made up entirely of city gang members and putting him 
with several other "country bo\s." But it may also be as chfficult as 
finding a place in upper management for a potentially outstanding man 
who, for example, has an unhappv faciUty for making a play for his co- 
workers' wives, and who then becomes upset when he is rejected by the 
husbands. Perhaps a group of confirmed bachelors can be located; per- 
haps not. 

Transfer is also the ideal solution for most cases where the emplovee 
cannot adapt to rotating job assignments, and likewise for cases where 
the man's ineffectiveness is caused by his rejecting the group rather than 
vice versa. In the latter instance a strong motixe is almost invariably oper- 
ating in conjunction with the group factor, and the man experiences his 
mere presence in his ciurrent social context as a frustration of that motive. 
Since changing the motivational hierarchy is ver\^ difficult under such 
circumstances, it is more appropriate to pro\dde the type of associations 
he desires, if at all possible. Similarly, the man who has been imable to 
achieve emotionally close relationsliips because of rotating job assign- 
ments should be placed in a stable group. This should be easv if he has 
been performing different jobs in different groups, since he aheadv has 

The Groups at Work 153 

multiple skills to choose from. The fact that he has not used any of these 
to advantage in the past matters little; if the performance analysis is cor- 
rect, the provision of a group to belong to should raise him to an effective 
performance level. 

Where the group is contributing to ineffectiveness through what has 
been termed misplaced loyalty, the essential managerial requirement 
is, of course, to break through the protective screen and learn what is go- 
ing on. This can only be accomplished if the gap between leader and 
subordinates is not excessive. The manager who spends most of his time 
in his office and rarely talks with his men will have diflBculty learning 
about problems in the group which others wish to keep from him. On 
the other hand, the superior who is most likely to break through the 
screen is also most likely to be caught in the cohesive web. He may well 
be the type of person who finds it diflBcult to assume a managerial role 
and who is most frequently seen working alongside his men. If so, his 
knowledge will not result in action. 

Some managers have worked out what amounts to a tacit agreement 
regarding the exchange of information. Certain individuals in any group 
always like to be "in the know," to serve as key links in the grapevine. 
They will often provide information about other workers in exchange for 
preferred access to data which comes down from higher levels. Since cer- 
tain information always reaches the manager first, he can use this partial 
control over the communication processes to find out other things he 
needs to know to perform his job effectively. In view of the crucial im- 
portance of unearthing ineffective performance and its possible causes, 
such procedures would seem to be entirely appropriate. If one alcoholic 
can be identified and helped or one severe neurotic induced to enter treat- 
ment, then the use of such an informal communication source is justified. 
Unfortunately, however, a manager will have to exhibit considerable 
skill if he is to continue to obtain information of this kind over an ex- 
tended period of time. The group may well resent this type of intrusion. 

As previously indicated, crisis and separation reactions of the kind dis- 
cussed in Chapter 6 may occur in response to group rather than family in- 
stigation. The source matters little insofar as corrective action is con- 
cerned; the appropriate procedures are the same. The death of a person 
performing the same kind of work may introduce certain unique factors, 
however. In such cases the feeling that "it might have been me" can pre- 
cipitate a rapid breakdown which need not follow the pattern described 
for grief reactions. In order to minimize such effects, it is particularly 
important for the manager to refrain from saying anything that might 
suggest the work was responsible. All too frequently someone ventures 
the opinion that "anyone in that kind of work is bound to end up with a 

154 The Management of Ineffective Tei-jormance 

heart attack eventually," and a man in a parallel job is overcome with 
panic. Usually the anxiety in such instances is so intense that the man 
can be induced to seek professional help. 

When a man's failure is directly attributable to inconsiderate treatment 
by his superior or to an abdication of managerial responsibihties, the 
ideal solution is a change in the manager's behavior. Such a manager 
must come to recognize what he is doing and gain suflBcient understand- 
ing of his own feehngs and motives to permit change. The same prescrip- 
tion holds if a manager is using inappropriate standards and criteria. 
He must develop a capacity to discriminate between personal feelings 
toward a subordinate and opinions regarding his work effectiveness. 
This requires considerable self-understanding and the ability to act on 
the basis of such insight. 

In essence, what is required is that the manager bring about a shift in 
his own hierarchy of motives and the dominance relationships involved. 
As has been noted, it is very diflBcult to induce such changes in a subordi- 
nate. It is no easier when the manager himself is the object. Very few peo- 
ple can accomphsh this sort of thing on their own. Almost invariably out- 
side assistance is required if more than superficial changes are to occur. 
There is no question that a number of sessions with a qualified clinical 
psychologist or psychiatrist can contribute much to sefi-understanding 
and ultimately to managerial effectiveness. Although it is by no means 
common for managers to seek this kind of assistance, many mental health 
workers in training do undertake psychotherapy as part of their profes- 
sional preparation. From this experience it would appear that initially 
well-adjusted people can improve their effectiveness rather markedly in 
a relatively short period of time. 

In industry it is more common to resort to some type of management 
development program to achieve similar results. Sensitivity training or 
T-group training is basically aimed at providing the manager with an 
increased ability to see himself as others see him ( 140 ) . It is hoped that 
through this means he will gain greater self -understanding and the capac- 
ity to adapt his actions to situational demands in a flexible manner. Al- 
though the effectiveness of this kind of program in bringing about motiva- 
tional change has not yet been clearly demonstrated, other management 
development efforts have been shown to possess such capabilities. Stud- 
ies indicate that training can contribute to increased consideration in 
dealing with subordinates (120, 123) and to greater acceptance of the 
managerial role ( 79, 132, 133 ) . Whether such changes, once estabhshed, 
will be stabiHzed appears to depend on factors extrinsic to the training 
per se. Ideally, aU levels of management should participate in the devel- 
opment program and have an equal opportunity for change. If this is not 
done, the effects of training may be counteracted. 

The Groups at Work 155 

The alternative to changing the behavior of the manager himself is, of 
course, to change the specific individual to whom the subordinate reports. 
This may be done by replacing the man in charge or by transferring the 
subordinate so that he receives a different kind of supervision in an- 
other group. There is no question that certain individuals possess charac- 
teristic emotional reactions and motives which make it inevitable that 
they will fail under certain kinds of managers. Where these managers are 
equally lacking in flexibility, the only solution is a change in supervision. 
If many employees are involved, it may be best that the manager be re- 
placed. If there are only a few, their transfer into groups where more suit- 
able supervision is available may be sufficient to correct the situation. 

Having discussed the various small groups, including fami- 
lies and associations at work, which may influence performance, we now 
turn to the next larger social unit. Many decisions reached at the organi- 
zational level take on, as they filter down to their final points of applica- 
tion, increasing significance for specific individuals. Decisions of this 
kind are constantly being made at the higher managerial levels of every 
firm and in most cases are rendered with no direct personal knowledge of 
the individuals involved. 

Many of these higher-level decisions culminate in policies which may 
be established with regard to a great many aspects of company operations 
— sales, purchasing, production, finance, personnel, etc. (149, 155). For 
our purposes those in the personnel area are the most relevant, since they 
are particularly likely to have an impact on individual performance. Such 
policies deal with promotion, wage and salary administration, employee 
benefits, leaves for military service and illness, retirements, labor relations, 
and many other matters. They are foimulated to apply to all the employ- 
ees of the company or, on occasion, to specific groups, and they indicate 
what actions should be taken when certain conditions arise. They tend, 
therefore, to limit the discretion of individual managers and to serve as 
commands which are invoked when appropriate circumstances arise. Poli- 
cies are, of course, also made at lower levels to guide the behavior of sub- 
ordinates, but these are best treated as aspects of the leadership process. 
This chapter will be concerned only with the effects of organizational 

The results of these semipermanent guiding decisions at high levels are 
generally evaluated in terms of the overall impact on company objectives. 
It is also possible to raise questions regarding the effects on specific em- 
ployees: A policy which is generally beneficial can still have negative 
consequences for a given individual. A policy of promotion from within 
can prove very successful and yet contribute to failure when a man who 
is the only possible candidate inside the organization is advanced in 


158 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

grade and becomes ineffective as a result. It is the nature of such direc- 
tives tliat they apply to large groups of people and that their success must 
be evaluated in terms of the balance of results. Only when the negative 
consequences, such as performance failures, become too widespread or 
when more effective policies are available but not instituted, can these 
formulations be said to be poor. 

This chapter will deal with these unintended consequences of policy 
formulation and also with cases where individual decisions at the organi- 
zational level are instrumental in failure. The latter are characteristically 
made either by the officers of the company or by the specific men to whom 
such powers have been delegated. They deal with matters not covered 
by policy which arise in the normal course of events and which require 
action at a level above that of the immediate superior. As with policies, 
these organizational decisions may have either positive or negative con- 
sequences for performance. They may also, over time, accumulate to 
form what amounts to policy by precedent. It is in these cases, where a 
series of individual decisions have coalesced into organizational policy 
without consideration of broader consequences, that ineffective perform- 
ance is most likely to result. 

As the discussion proceeds, the primary emphasis will be on the nega- 
tive consequences of organizational action. This does not necessarily 
imply that the policy under consideration is poor or that the specific or- 
ganizational decision should not have been made. There are many more 
things to consider in evaluating such actions than the performance failure 
of a single individual. Our concern with the causes of ineffectiveness may 
lead to an impression of repeated criticism, but this is not intended. With- 
out question most top -management decisions in most companies have a 
generally positive effect on performance and on the attainment of com- 
pany objectives. If this were not the case, the number of unsuccessful 
companies would be much greater than it is. In addition, it is a rare com- 
pany indeed which produces all the strategic factors which will be noted. 
Some generally occur in one type of firm, some in another. The points to 
be made represent a distillation derived from a great many sources. 

The extent to which the individual manager can do anything to re- 
move the causes of ineffective performance of the type discussed in this 
chapter varies considerably. If employed in a position where he can make 
policy or have a direct influence on its formulation, a manager may well 
initiate corrective action himself. Managers at lower levels, however, are 
relatively powerless when organizational factors are strategic. The most 
they can do is to bring the negative effects of a policy or higher-level de- 
cision to the attention of their superiors. This may or may not result in 
a change, depending on many factors. Nevertheless, it is important from 
the point of view of organizational objectives that such feedback occurs 

The Company 159 

Those at higher levels must obtain information regarding the impact of 
their policies in order to evaluate them. Only if managers who are in a 
position to observe these effects do in fact send their impressions back 
up the line, can appropriate reformulations be made. However, in many 
companies feedback is not provided, usually because it is considered 
"suicidal" to criticize the actions of those responsible for one's future ca- 

Since the individual manager's role where organizational factors are 
present is in most cases advisory at best, it is appropriate to ask why man- 
agers at lower levels need bother to identify such factors at all when mak- 
ing a performance analysis. The answer is in part that they must do so to 
provide feedback. Without detailed knowledge of the consequences of 
higher-level actions, it would indeed be foolish for a man to comment on 
them to his superiors. Secondly, knowing that the causes of a subordinate's 
failure are of an organizational nature and beyond the manager's control 
can make the managerial job considerably easier. Once this fact has been 
clearly established, his energies can be devoted to problems more amen- 
able to solution. As most managers are well aware, there are some things 
which cannot be changed. The following discussion of the various com- 
pany policies and high-level decisions which may assume a strategic role 
will, then, give only limited attention to corrective action. No separate sec- 
tion will be devoted to such matters. Implications for policy change and 
decision making at higher levels in the company will be noted when they 
are appropriate, but with full realization that such changes may not be 
available or desirable as immediate solutions to problems of ineffective- 

Insufficient Organizational Action 

Ineffective performance may occur because the company does not take 
the action necessary to eliminate the causes of failure. This may be a mat- 
ter of deliberate choice. Decisions which preclude establishing the con- 
ditions necessary for effective performance may have been reached after 
extensive study. As an example, let us take various company decisions 
with regard to investment in training. Most firms make it a practice to 
hire people for a great many jobs who are already fully educated 
or trained. They establish policies which preclude investing in certain 
types of development activities and accordingly do not provide internal 
facilities for this purpose. Nor do they make outside resources available at 
company expense. As a result a man may be permitted to fail due to in- 
sufficient or inadequate training without any corrective action being 

Except under special circumstances, firms do not characteristically in- 

160 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

vest in stenographic and typing training for secretarial and clerical per- 
sonnel. Should a girl fail as a result of inadequate preparation in these 
areas, rectifying the situation is assumed to be entirely up to her. Similarly, 
illiterates are rarely taught to read and write even though such knowl- 
edge is essential to almost all industrial employment. In foreign countries 
where illiteracy rates are high, however, education may be provided be- 
cause of either legal requirements or the necessity of obtaining qualified 
manpower. Yet even in such situations many instances of failures at- 
tributable to investment decisions can be cited. 

Advanced training in job-related technical specialities is sometimes 
provided at company expense, but this is not universally true. Many com- 
panies will pay for courses taken in local universities, although the pay- 
ments may be predicated on the attainment of certain grades. But many 
others will not. They will permit a man to fail because he lacks the tech- 
nical knowledge required rather than supply it at company expense. 

Similar investment decisions are often made regarding the treatment 
of physical and emotional disorders. Some firms will provide treatment 
in company-operated dispensaries or even hospitals. Others contribute 
extensively to union medical facilities or to comprehensive insurance 
plans. Still others operate on the assumption that treatment can be, or 
should be, left to the individual. As a result no specific action involving 
company expenditures is prescribed when a man fails due to inadequate 
treatment of an illness. The individual who does not seek help or who 
turns to quacks is left to his own devices. 

In these and other instances that might be cited, the man is permitted 
to fail without direct action being taken that would involve a cost to the 
company. This, of course, does not necessarily preclude the use of trans- 
fer and improved placement to overcome the deficiency. Even transfer, 
however, may be carried out without sufficient investment in personnel 
procedures to provide any assurance of success in the new position. Some 
companies maintain only skeletal personnel departments and take the 
risk that employees may not be appropriately assigned. Thus a policy de- 
cision regarding investment in personnel placement procedures has been 
reached which makes a number of failures inevitable. Organizational- 
action failures of this kind will be taken up in greater detail shortly. 

In reaching such policy decisions most companies take a variety of fac- 
tors into account ( 152 ) . A primary consideration, of course, is cost. Some 
investments are too expensive even to think about, or they involve an 
initial outlay so large that there is felt to be little chance of its recovery. 
Extensive training or medical treatment, for instance, may involve a 
greater expenditure than seems warranted in view of the apparent gains. 
Also, to the extent that qualified practitioners to carry out the action are 
in short supply, their services are likely to be very expensive. Thus, avail- 

The Company 161 

ability of physicians, psychologists, educators, and others may be not only 
a consideration of importance in its own right, but a matter of some finan- 
cial significance. 

The second major factor is time. Will the investment, even if successful 
in restoring eflFective performance, achieve it rapidly enough? There may 
not be sufficient time available to await the results of long training or 
treatment. For example, an experienced personnel man with a bachelor's 
degree in psychology might be given responsibility for developing an ex- 
tensive psychological testing program within the company. Subsequently 
it may become clear that he lacks the necessary knowledge to do the job 
effectively. A question would then arise as to whether the company 
should invest in the required two or three years of graduate study for the 
man. If it should be evident that the testing program is urgently needed, 
the investment would presumably not be made. The man would be per- 
mitted to fail, at least in the testing position, and a qualified person would 
be hired from the outside to undertake the work immediately. Considera- 
tions of time would preclude investment in corrective action. 

Another important factor is the availability of suitable replacements. 
Are there people in the labor market who can take over the job and per- 
form effectively, if an investment is not made in the incumbent? In the 
preceding example, for instance, the company would have been forced to 
provide graduate training for its own man if it had been unable to recruit 
a qualified psychologist. Similarly, most companies would invest in typ- 
ing and stenographic training for secretaries if pretrained people were 
not available in sufficient numbers. During the engineering shortages of 
the early 1950s a number of companies gave extensive consideration to 
establishing engineering programs of their own. 

Finally, in making such decisions the company must evaluate the prob- 
ability that investment in corrective action will achieve the desired results. 
What are the risks involved? The personnel man in the psychological test- 
ing job might fail as a graduate student, or he might complete the work 
successfully. Certainly in the areas of psychological and medical treat- 
ment, the outcome is often uncertain. From a managerial viewpoint 
there is little point in spending large sums of money when there is little 
chance that the procedure will restore effective performance. The indi- 
vidual himself or society as a whole, having different objectives than a 
business organization, may, of course, wish to make such investments 
where a firm would not. 

Considerations of cost, time, availability of replacements, and risk 
may, then, lead to a decision which is strategic for the failure of certain 
individuals. Certain employees are permitted to fail, somewhat in the 
manner that machines are allowed to break down under a deferred- 
maintenance plan. But the lack of organizational action is not always a 

162 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

direct result of a policy decision. In many cases the company omits spe- 
cial services or conditions of employment for reasons having nothing to 
do with investment considerations. There may be deficiencies and con- 
flicts in personnel policy formulation and planning which necessitate con- 
siderable improvisation at lower levels. Such improvisations may, on 
occasion, be totally inadequate to the task of maintaining effective per- 
formance levels. 

At other times poHcies may have been formulated only to fail in im- 
plementation. It may happen that a man hired with the understanding 
that he will require certain actions or conditions to do satisfactory work 
is later denied them. Across-the-board cuts in the budgets of all depart- 
ments during times of financial difficulty seem particularly likely to pro- 
duce such results. The implementation of policy may give way before the 
practical reality of available financial resources, even though top manage- 
ment never intended that this should be the consequence of the budget 

Similarly, an individual may have a physical or emotional condition 
which necessitates his employment in a certain type of job. A physical 
handicap, for instance, may be noted at the time of the preemployment 
physical examination. Yet for a variety of reasons he may not be put in 
a job he can do and may thus be permitted to fail. Or a company may 
have an active safety program with specific regulations regarding the use 
of protective devices. Yet difficulties in the purchasing process may pro- 
duce a shortage of goggles, with the consequence that at least one em- 
ployee receives a severe injury and thereby fails in performance. It may 
also be that the company, although generally interested in reducing ac- 
cidents, does little by way of either studying jobs for potential hazards or 
establishing uniform safety rules. As a result the actions taken at lower 
levels may be diverse and on occasion totally inadequate. 

Often companies hire employees who lack job knowledge with the 
understanding that training will be provided after employment. Many 
management trainees, including the great majority of liberal arts gradu- 
ates, initially have no usable job skills. These are to be developed through 
training programs, job rotation, and the like. Sometimes, however, things 
do not work out as intended. The man misses instruction because of ill- 
ness, or he is considered so good that he does not require the usual train- 
ing, or the program is not set up as planned. Occasionally the need for 
productive workers becomes so acute that development efforts are cur- 
tailed. For whatever reason, the company unintentionally deprives the 
man of the preparation knov^n to be essential for success in his work. 

The Company 163 

Personnel Placement 

As previously noted, placement decisions may contribute to ineffective 
performance because the company had adopted a policy of limited in- 
vestment in this area. In such cases little effort is made to study the various 
jobs with a view to identifying specific demands, and people are 
assigned on the basis of minimal information regarding their abilities, 
emotional patterns, motives, and physical characteristics. Sometimes place- 
ments are made largely at random, depending on the immediate avail- 
ability of people and the existence of openings. Sometimes policies which 
do not require detailed knowledge of job demands and individual char- 
acteristics are invoked; for example, the dictate that everyone must start 
at the bottom in one of several entry occupations and work up through 
the department to which he was initially assigned. The failure of organi- 
zational action need not stem from a meager investment in the personnel 
function, however; placement errors occur in all firms, even those with 
the largest and most competent personnel components. The incidence 
may be sharply reduced, but the problem cannot be entirely eliminated. 

Placement decisions need not, of course, be organizational in nature. 
They are not always made from a separate staff department which has 
been delegated authority in this area. Although the closed shop has been 
outlawed, there are still many situations in which men are assigned to 
work largely at the discretion of the union. Sometimes the individual 
manager has complete authority in these matters. It is more usual, how- 
ever, for applicants to be screened in the personnel office. Then only those 
considered capable of performing a certain job are forwarded to an in- 
dividual manager for consideration. In the more typical case, therefore, 
the control of recruiting and selection processes residing in a personnel or 
industrial relations group gives that group a major role in the final place- 
ment decision. As the tools and procedures required for the study of jobs 
and individuals become increasingly complex, this role may be expected 
to expand. The authority of expertise has already tended to make place- 
ment primarily a special staff function within many large corporations. 
In the smaller companies a shift in this direction is increasingly apparent. 
To the extent that such changes have occurred in a firm, errors in the 
placement process must be considered strategic factors of a basically or- 
ganizational nature. 

A great many ways in which people may be incorrectly placed have 
already been discussed. Let us take this opportunity to review them 
briefly. A man may be assigned at too high a level for his verbal ability, 
or he may lack the special abilities (numerical, mechanical, etc.) 

164 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

demanded by his work. There may be intellectual deficiencies of a more 
specific kind in the area of job knowledge. Emotions such as anxiety, de- 
pression, guilt, and anger may be persistently aroused in a certain job and 
contribute to failure. Symptoms of an emotional nature can be precipi- 
tated by the stresses inherent in a position and interfere with perform- 
ance. Neurotic symptoms are particularly likely to have such detrimental 
effects when the placement is at a relatively high level. Dominant types of 
motivation may be continually frustrated in a specific kind of work. Cer- 
tain jobs do not permit the satisfaction of important positive motives or 
the avoidance of major sources of distress. Specific occupational interests 
may be inappropriate to the particular position. 

Equally detrimental consequences may derive from errors in fitting 
physical characteristics to job demands. Various handicaps may inter- 
fere with performance. A person with brain damage may be overassigned 
relative to his intellectual and perceptual capabiHties. Physical propor- 
tions such as size and weight may be inappropriate to performance re- 
quirements. Strength and stamina, motor speed, and coordination, as well 
as other more specific muscular skills and competencies, may be inade- 
quate. Vision and hearing, including depth perception, color vision, 
and other factors, may not be sufficient for job demands. Speed of per- 
ceptual response may be below what is required. 

Placement errors involving the individual's intellectual, emotional, mo- 
tivational, or physical functioning may also contain certain social or group 
aspects. Thus, some people fail because they have been assigned to work 
requiring constant separation from an important family group. Or they 
fail because their work creates certain family problems which in turn 
interfere with effectiveness. A wife may be separated from her parents by 
a foreign assignment. A man may work in close association with a brother 
and permit his performance to suffer as a result of old rivalries. 

Work-group factors may also operate. The group may be devoid of the 
cohesiveness a specific man needs for effective performance. Or its co- 
hesiveness may be based on characteristics which the man lacks, so that 
he becomes ostracized. The type of supervision available may be totally 
inadequate to an individual's needs. He may require kindness and con- 
sideration, but work under a manager who is incapable of such behavior. 
He may have motivational problems which necessitate firm direction 
and the estabhshment of high standards, but belong to a group which is 
in essence leaderless. 

As will be seen in the chapters which follow, placement errors may also 
be associated with societal and situational factors. This discussion, how- 
ever, will be limited to errors involving the strategic factors which ha\'e 
already been noted. Particularly important are the problems of over- and 
underplacement. Men may be put in jobs which demand more of them 

The Company 165 

intellectually than they are capable of producing. They may also be as- 
signed "over their heads" in an emotional sense: Symptoms may be pre- 
cipitated by the specific situational stresses inherent in higher-level posi- 
tions. (Chapter 11 contains a more extended discussion of this problem.) 
Many men do not want the responsibility inherent in managerial work 
(147). They tend to view such employment with an anticipation of 
anxiety which leads them to avoid job duties. When pushed or pulled into 
such positions by threats or oflFers of large incomes, they are very likely to 
fail. Furthermore, the overplaced individual is likely to create difficulties 
for those under him. Many problems develop when a man is put in 
charge of others who are clearly more competent than he. 

Underplacement, on the other hand, need not assume an equally im- 
portant position for ineffective performance. From a study employing the 
occupational levels described in Chapter 2 and a sample of 745 people 
typical of the 1953 United States labor force, it appears that at that time 
28 percent of those in unskilled jobs had sufficient verbal ability to per- 
mit them to handle positions at the top level. Another 36 percent were 
qualified for skilled work. Among the semiskilled, underplacement was 
also common: 48 percent had the verbal ability requisite for professional 
and managerial employment ( 12 ) . Even though characteristics other than 
verbal ability might preclude assigning many of these individuals to 
higher-level work, there is still a tremendous wastage of developed intel- 
ligence involved. Yet it is doubtful that the majority of these people are 
ineffective. Performance failure is not that widespread. Many people do 
not experience a sense of frustration when employed in jobs which are in 
a sense beneath them. Their motivation remains entirely satisfactory. 

This is not invariably the case however. In one study conducted by the 
writer in the oflSces of a single company, performance failures were found 
to be unusually frequent among very intelligent female employees work- 
ing in what would be classified as level 2 or skilled positions. This com- 
pany, like many others, had very few women in managerial and profes- 
sional jobs. As a result those who had reached the more responsible secre- 
tarial positions or something comparable were unlikely to progress further. 
For many of the most intelligent this situation apparently became in- 
tolerable, and either the quality of their work fell off badly or they began 
to have a negative impact on the work of others because of their constant 
bickering. Similar effects may occur in other situations. Disciplinary prob- 
lems can well arise out of underplacement. The early union leaders in the 
United States, most of whom were of well-above-average intelligence, 
would undoubtedly have been placed in this category. In short, under- 
placement can be strategic for performance failure, but unlike overplace- 
ment it need not be so. Where it does assume a causal role, promotion, 
if it is at all feasible, can provide a solution. 

166 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Although, as the discussion has indicated, the personnel placement 
process is most likely to contribute to failure by putting a square peg in 
a round hole or vice versa, there is an additional way in which it may be- 
come strategic. Occasionally, for training purposes or other reasons, men 
are transferred from one job to another in rapid succession. As a result 
they are constantly faced with the initial ostracism of a new group and 
repeatedly required to gain acceptance from new associates. For some 
individuals this may be so difficult that efiFective work becomes almost 
impossible. Thus, although transfer has been recommended as a solution 
to many instances of ineflFectiveness, it should be recognized that exces- 
sive transfer is possible. Certainly such shifts should be undertaken with a 
specific objective in mind and with some reason to believe that this ob- 
jective will be achieved. The random shuffling of personnel which ap- 
pears to characterize a few organizations is likely to have negative con- 
sequences in the long run. 

In spite of the considerations raised in this section, it must be recog- 
nized that there are times when a company must assign large groups of 
employees en masse to a new type of work. On these occasions it is not 
always possible to take time to work out appropriate placements. Con- 
version to new equipment may introduce such a necessity. So too may the 
discontinuance of a product line, coupled with continuing high demand 
for other products. Or a large order may have to be filled on a rush basis. 
Under such circumstances an increase in the number of inefiFective per- 
formers is to be expected, but the risk must be taken in order even to ap- 
proximate production requirements. 

When exigencies of this kind arise, ineffectiveness attributable to re- 
sentment can be minimized, although some errors of placement will in- 
evitably remain. In one study conducted at the Harwood Manufacturing 
Company, various methods of introducing job changes were compared 
( 145 ) . In order to meet competition the procedures for making pajamas 
had to be revised. Some of the groups were called together and told what 
changes were necessary as well as what payment procedures would be 
utihzed. This technique produced a permanent drop in the rate of produc- 
tion, a high rate of grievances, and 17 percent turnover within forty days. 
By way of contrast, other groups were allowed to decide upon their own 
changed working procedures after being told about the inroads of com- 
petition. These experienced only a brief inital drop in output, which was 
followed by a sizable permanent increase. Grievances and turnover were 
nonexistent. Although this instance may be extreme, there is no question 
that providing detailed information and allowing employees as much 
freedom as possible in adjusting to change can serve to make mass trans- 
fers more peaceful and keep ineffectiveness to a minimum. Sudden job 

The Company 167 

changes, which permit the individual no participation in developing the 
new work procedures, are particularly likely to produce diiBBculties. 

From what has been said, the reader may have gathered that a flexible 
personnel placement policy which emphasizes individual differences 
and varying job demands is most likely to minimize ineffective perform- 
ance. It is the writer's opinion that this is in fact the case. More rigid poli- 
cies, although they may yield other advantages, seem to produce more 
than their share of failures. Many such policies derive from an earlier 
period when manpower was more expendable and firing relatively easy. 
Thus, starting everyone, irrespective of final destination, at the bottom 
in a blue-collar job may result in many failures and disrupted careers 
among men who would otherwise have made good managers. Rotating 
all line managers through staff assignments or administrative-assistant 
positions at some time in their careers can have similar effects. So too 
may the requirement that all men take a turn in traveling jobs or at a 
foreign installation. In all these cases, although the diversified experience 
may be broadening for some, it may produce nothing but failure and 
anxiety for others. Ideally, only those who can benefit from these experi- 
ences should be exposed to them. Placing people in positions in which 
they must ultimately fail is neither broadening to them nor helpful to 
the company. Even the use of imperfect techniques for making place- 
ments, in terms of the fit between individual characterisics and job de- 
mands, will produce fewer failures than rigid enforcement of a single ro- 
tation policy, which does not take the differences between individuals 
into account. 

Organizational Overpermissiveness 

The strategic factors to be covered in this section are in many ways 
analogous to those noted in the discussion in Chapter 7 of a manager's 
failure to assume leadership. The company, too, may become so easygo- 
ing and permissive, both in its policy formulation and in its high-level 
decision making, that the effect on employee motivation is detrimental. 
The number of ways in which company policies may thus fail to reflect 
organizational performance objectives are, of course, myriad. The follow- 
ing examples should provide a general idea of the processes involved. 

One obvious case is in the area of employee discipline. If provision is 
not made for disciplinary action when gross infraction of company regu- 
lations occurs, there is a good chance that at least a few individuals who 
would not otherwise get into trouble will do so. The deterrent power of 
negative sanctions, such as suspension without pay, should not be under- 
estimated. Some people are, of course, totally unaffected by them, but 

168 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

others will go to great lengths to avoid behavior which they believe will 
result in sanctions being invoked. In tlieir case a lack of operational dis- 
ciplinary machinery can easily be strategic for performance failure. A 
striking example is the lenient attitude many firms take toward the theft 
of company property. It is not uncommon for a major felony to result in 
nothing more than a reprimand or disciplinary suspension. The drastic 
step of calling in the police is taken relatively infrequently, unless a siz- 
able permanent cash loss is involved. Yet it is clear that anything short 
of such action tends to encourage some people in activities of this kind. 
Losses caused by employee pilfering of materials and equipment are a 
major cost in many American business enterprises, and although there are 
numerous factors which have contributed to this, it seems probable that 
organizational overpermissiveness is largely responsible. 

Another problem, which is more likely to affect the quality and quan- 
tity of work produced, results from certain training and recruiting poli- 
cies. It is not uncommon to lure young college graduates by offering 
extensive training programs. These vary in length, but tend to be- 
come longer and longer as companies bid against each other for the peo- 
ple they want. Often the training is described in terms which suggest that 
the young man will be given a year or two of vacation rather than an in- 
tensive educational experience. The result is that those graduates with 
the least anticipation of pleasure in work are attracted. In a number of 
cases, the training turns out to be just as undemanding as was originally 
implied, and the deficiencies in work motivation which existed at hiring 
are thereby perpetuated. Once a permanent placement is made, failure 
occurs because the young man has developed a belief that job-integrated 
work effort is totally unnecessary. Of course, not all initial training is em- 
ployed as a recruiting inducement, nor does such a procedure necessarily 
result in minimal work motivation. But unfortunately, the implication 
that work -related effort is not a requisite for success in the company is 
carried by a number of programs of this kind. 

Grievance procedures can produce similar motivational problems 
among union-represented employees. In some companies it is not unusual 
for those who make decisions at steps below the arbitration level to fail 
to support their first line supervisors. Since the people in the higher eche- 
lons are physically far removed from the actual scene of the diflBculty, 
they are not likely to feel personally involved, and it is often tempting to 
portray the company as an understanding organization which is willing 
to forgive and forget. The unintended consequence is that supervisors do 
not discipline subordinates because they fear that the result will be 
a grievance which is eventually settled against them. An atmosphere of 
excessive permissiveness permeates the company, and many supervisors 
feel encouraged to neglect important aspects of the managerial role. At 

The Company 169 

this point the eflFects of poor leadership noted in Chapter 7 begin to ap- 
pear. Naturally, some reversals at higher levels are inevitable. Only when 
the frequency becomes so high that supervisors develop grave doubts re- 
garding their ability to gain support from the company, and union leaders 
come to expect inevitable success if grievances are carried beyond the 
initial steps, is there likely to be a detrimental effect on performance. 

Excessively liberal sick-leave policies tend to influence employee mo- 
tivation in a different manner. If there is any implication that the leave 
time is an employee right comparable to a vacation, sizable increases in 
absenteeism may result. Although policies vary widely in different parts 
of the country and in different industries, there are a number of firms 
which pay full salary over considerable periods without checking to see 
whether the claims of illness are valid. In some companies the right to 
such payments starts with the date of employment, and no waiting period 
for individual illnesses exists. Such procedures can convey the impression 
that absenteeism is condoned by the company. Some employees will use 
up allotted sick leaves as soon as possible year after year and then take 
additional time off for real illnesses. The result can be that a man is not 
present on the job enough to be considered effective. 

A final example of organizational overpermissiveness takes us back to 
the matter of personnel placement. On occasion a company will adopt 
policies which make transfers extremely easy to accomplish. As a result, 
managers are encouraged to shift problem employees to other groups as 
soon as performance difficulties become apparent rather than carry out a 
performance analysis and apply appropriate solutions. A man who is 
failing may go from one group to another in rapid succession, in the proc- 
ess losing any chance of being restored to an effective level. Certainly a 
placement policy which makes transfer extremely difficult can have detri- 
mental effects, since appropriate solutions will be blocked. But a too easy 
approach is equally likely to contribute to ineffectiveness. Those in 
charge of the various work groups are encouraged to shirk managerial 
responsibilities, and there is an excessive amount of personnel shifting 
which has no relationship to performance improvement. 

The Span of Control 

Much has been written in the literature dealing with business organiza- 
tion regarding the span of control. Generally the emphasis has been on 
the ideal span: the size of the group which can be effectively supervised 
by a single manager. Our concern, although similar, has a somewhat dif- 
ferent orientation. If a company is organized so that managers are respon- 
sible for large groups of subordinates, the sheer numbers involved 
may preclude adequate performance analysis and the application of ap- 

170 The Management of Inejfective Performance 

propriate solutions. It is impossible to deal with individuals and their 
problems in the manner proposed in this book if the manager has so 
many people reporting to him that he is overwhelmed with work. Thus 
the mere size of the group can become a strategic factor in a case of fail- 
ure. In a smaller unit the ineffective man could have been given the atten- 
tion required to attain an acceptable performance level. 

In situations of this type the difficulty superficially appears to derive 
from ineffective supervision. The manager, in failing to deal with moti- 
vational or other problems in his subordinate, gives the impression that 
he has abdicated his role. He may even believe this himself. But on closer 
observation it becomes evident that it would be physically impossible 
for any manager to handle problems of performance failure with such 
extensive demands on his time. Thus the problem emerges as one of com- 
pany policy — of decisions regarding staffing and the organization of work 
— rather than of leadership within the group. 

The question remains: What size group should a manager have, if this 
type of strategic influence is to be eliminated? There has been some 
agreement (149) that the ideal number is in the range of 4 to 8 at the 
upper levels of the organization and between 8 and 15, or perhaps 
somewhat more, at the lowest level. When these figures are set against 
those found in actual practice, marked disparities emerge. Studies in Brit- 
ish industry indicate that production groups may vary from 5 or less to 
150, the average being about 24. In the United States similar groups seem 
to run somewhat larger, the average number in one survey being 29 

The evidence on the relationship between group size and productivity 
permits more definite conclusions. There seems little question that smaller 
groups are generally more effective (89, 115). The data available indi- 
cate that groups of 10 or less are likely to produce at a rate 6 to 8 percent 
above that found in groups of 40 or 50. Presumably the opportunity 
which the smaller units provide for adequate handling of performance 
failure is a major factor in this result. The increased cohesiveness which 
is likely to develop may also contribute. 

It would seem, then, that groups should be made as small as possible 
within the limits set by the inherent organization of work and the avail- 
ability of competent supervision. If effective managers cannot be ob- 
tained, of course, group size will have to be increased. It has been sug- 
gested that the degree of this increase must be based, at least in part, 
on the trained competence of the workers. "Green" employees will re- 
quire more attention than experienced ones, and thus the number a man- 
ager can handle effectively is considerably less ( 157 ) . This may be con- 
sidered a special case of the more general proposition that the span of 
control should be established with reference to the probable incidence of 

The Company 171 

ineffectiveness. The importance of keeping a group small increases when 
the men are inexperienced, turnover is high, and conditions v^^hich pre- 
dispose toward a high incidence of performance failure are present. 

When the span-of-control problem is placed in its organizational 
context, the question of the desirable number of managerial levels fre- 
quently emerges as a corollary. From the viewpoint of performance 
effectiveness, a minimum number of steps in the hierarchy seems desir- 
able. Communication and implementation of policy are facilitated in the 
"flat" organization, and feedback from lower levels is more likely to 
occur. This conclusion need not conflict with that regarding group 
size. The higher the level of a position, the greater the effort that most 
organizations devote to screening and selection, and the more experi- 
enced and intelligent the incumbents. As a result the probability of per- 
formance failure tends to be considerably reduced above the first level 
of supervision. Such conditions would seem to indicate that the span of 
control at the top might well equal the largest span employed at the low- 
est level and could even exceed it without becoming strategic for per- 
formance failure. If groups within the company were established on this 
basis, there should be little difficulty in maintaining a relatively flat or- 
ganization. It is the telescoping of group size as the hierarchy is ascended 
that contributes most to the proliferation of levels. 

These conclusions must be qualified in terms of one factor: the extent 
of managerial activity required in addition to that of a basically super- 
visory nature. Many company presidents, for instance, must devote a 
considerable proportion of their time to representing the company per- 
sonally with outside organizations and groups. This public relations func- 
tion may preclude giving much attention to the performance of subordi- 
nates. Similarly, an industrial relations manager may have to spend many 
hours in negotiations with union representatives and in efforts to settle 
disputes or to ward off organizing attempts. For him an unusually small 
span of control may still be too large and may contribute to the failure of 
an individual in his group. Probably the best solution in such cases is to 
employ a direct line assistant to handle more strictly supervisory matters. 
Often an executive vice-president performs in this role for the company 
president. Certainly the extent to which a manager must carry out spe- 
cialized work functions, in addition to directing the performance of oth- 
ers, must be taken into account in deciding whether a performance 
failure is attributable to an excessive span of control. 

Inappropriate Organizational Standards and Criteria 

Just as a manager may establish procedures for evaluation which make 
a man ineffective by definition only, so too may the organization as a 

172 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

whole introduce standards and criteria which are inappropriate. In gen- 
eral, inappropriate factors are somewhat less likely to be strategic at the 
organizational level than at the level of immediate supervision. Men in 
policy-making positions are usually so intimately and personally con- 
cerned with the attainment of company goals that they are unlikely to 
let irrelevant factors intrude. Yet such things do occur. An employee is 
defined as ineffective and relieved of his job because a relative of a high- 
ranking company official desires the position. Prevailing prejudices be- 
come institutionalized as part of the company's selection and promotion 
policies. It is possible for any of the inappropriate factors noted in Chap- 
ter 7 to become strategic at the organizational level. 

One of the primary ways in which the company may create perform- 
ance failure by definition is in connection with the control process. Con- 
trol requires that performance standards be established, usually but not 
necessarily in budgetary terms, and actual performance compared with 
the ideal (148). Generally it is assumed that remedial action will be 
taken if the two consistently deviate. These standards set at the organiza- 
tional level can be inappropriately high, as when an inadequate budget is 
allocated to an unpopular manager to ensure his failure. A company may 
also introduce criteria having no direct association with performance. A 
manager may, for instance, be expected to achieve election to a certain 
club before being considered effective in a job at his level. Such uses of 
inappropriate factors in carrying out evaluations for control or other pur- 
poses are presumably rare, but the possibility that they may exist cannot 
be arbitrarily ruled out in conducting any performance analysis. 

There is one area in which it appears that inappropriate criteria are 
being extensively applied at the organizational level, although it has 
not been common practice to consider the matter from this viewpoint. 
Many companies designate a fixed compulsory retirement age, often sixty- 
five, without reference to the performance level of the individual. The 
use of age in this manner would seem to fit the conception of an inappro- 
priate criterion, since men are thereby defined as ineffective on a basis 
having no necessary relation to organizational goals. Of course, if it devel- 
ops that a man actually wishes to stop work, this interpretation is incor- 
rect. It is important, therefore, to look at the evidence regarding 
the attitudes of people approaching retirement. 

In one study of the employees of a manufacturing firm located in Liv- 
erpool, England (156), questions indicated that approximately 68 per- 
cent did not wish to retire at the compulsory age of sixty-five. Among 
those who did, the great majority considered themselves physically inca- 
pable of continuing beyond the established date. The primary reason 
given for wanting to remain on the job was financial. Most of the men 
were in blue-collar positions and all were over forty-five. A study con- 

The Company 173 

ducted among members of the International Ladies' Garment Workers 
Union in New York City yielded a similar conclusion (158). At least 50 
percent of those over fifty-five did not plan to retire at the earliest pos- 
sible age. The union agreement provided that retirement with pension 
could occur at sixty-five or any time thereafter that the employee de- 
sired. The actual average age of retirement was 68.5. It is interesting to 
note that the wish to stop work became less frequent in successively 
older groups. As the prospect became increasingly real, there was appar- 
ently a tendency to look on it with less favor. These findings are sup- 
ported by other research (151). Probably the wish to continue work is 
even more prevalent in management groups. Clearly, there are many 
people who do not wish to retire and who are being forced out by com- 
pulsory provisions. The great majority have at least ten more years to live 
and are capable of an extended period of effective performance. 

Chapters 2 and 5 have reviewed the evidence regarding changes in 
skills and abilities throughout life. There is no reason to believe that job- 
related intellectual abilities will decline in the sixties and early seventies 
unless a brain disorder develops, and this happens in only a small per- 
centage of cases. Physical illnesses generally are more frequent in older 
employees and may result in extensive absence from work, although 
again, these occur on a selective basis and are not concentrated in any 
specific age range. Muscular and sensory skills and speed are likely to 
decline. Clerical, sales, and managerial tasks do not seem to be affected 
by these physical changes, but performance in certain kinds of heavy 
work is disturbed. However, in many cases this can be compensated for 
by job changes. In the Liverpool factory study previously noted, 55 per- 
cent of the men in production departments between the ages of forty- 
five and sixty-five transferred to positions involving lighter work. Only 7 
percent shifted to more physically demanding jobs. 

In view of these data regarding the attitudes and performance of older 
workers, there does seem to be some justification for concluding that a 
fixed retirement age really is inappropriate in many cases. At least, a great 
many people who are performing effectively by other standards and who 
wish to continue are forced out of their jobs as a result. A retirement pol- 
icy more closely tied to actual performance would be more consistent 
with the objectives of business enterprise. Actually, such policies are in 
effect in many firms. The interested reader should consult the book Flex- 
ible Retirement ( 151 ) for examples and further information. 

In view of the cost involved in retiring employees on pension several 
years before this becomes necessary, and considering the loss of signifi- 
cant skills and knowledge, especially at the managerial level, it is impor- 
tant to ask why so many companies do have a mandatory retirement sys- 
tem. The major arguments appear to be that the procedure is simple, or- 

174 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

derly, and impartial. Furthermore, promotional opportunities for younger 
men become available more frequently and on a predictable basis. 

Behind this position seems to lie a marked concern with reducing jeal- 
ousy and conflict. If everyone is separated at the same age, the system is 
inherently fair, and no one is likely to become angry because he is being 
retired while another man is not (or vice versa). It obviates the neces- 
sity for telling an individual directly that he is too old to continue work 
and thus eliminates the resentment that might well be aroused. Also, it 
serves as a partial control over the ambitions of people in lower-level 
positions, since they know the specific date when an opening will occur. 
If this time is not too far distant, any desire to assume the position of an 
elderly superior is likely to be held in check. If the date were unknown, 
the probability of overt conflict between an elderly superior and ambi- 
tious subordinates would be much greater. In short, a more flexible re- 
tirement procedure can become a source of trouble which, as will be seen 
in the next section, some companies cannot afford. 

Intracompany Conflict and Organizational Failure 

The matter of intracompany conflict is only tangentially related to in- 
effective performance, but it is so important that the discussion would 
be incomplete without some reference to it. In all organizations a cer- 
tain amount of dissension exists. In business concerns it frequently polar- 
izes along group, division, or departmental lines, so that sizable units 
within a company are consistently in opposition. 

Conflict of this kind is most likely to occur under certain conditions 
( 150 ) . For one thing, there must be some feeling that joint decision mak- 
ing is necessary. If two units can operate entirely independently, without 
the necessity of working out agreements or coordinating their activities, 
then there is little possibility of trouble. But since nearly all business firms 
are organized in a complex system of interdependencies involving line 
and staff, production and marketing, and many other relationships, it is 
a rare unit indeed which is able to attain freedom from all other groups. 
Secondly, conflict derives from either differences in goals or differences in 
the way existing conditions are viewed. If two groups wanted exactly the 
same things and had identical information available, joint decision mak- 
ing might be expected to present few difficulties. However, where man- 
agers' personal ambitions, professional loyalties, varied sources of data, 
etc. are involved, as they usually are, dissension is very likely to arise. 

Many procedures have been devised to minimize this inherent poten- 
tial for conflict. Organization charts and function lists represent at- 
tempts to allocate power and authority in a manner that everyone can 
agree upon. If it is generally accepted that a given group or manager has 

The Company 175 

jurisdiction in certain areas, then joint decision making is no problem. 
Disagreements are resolved in favor of the group which is assumed to 
have authority. Thus, if the manufacturing department wants a special 
kind of equipment, it usually has no trouble getting it, within limits es- 
tablished by budgetary considerations. The purchasing, industrial rela- 
tions, and research departments do not possess an equal say-so, even 
though all may have their own viewpoints and might well wish to be in 
a position to influence the final decision. 

The control process can serve the same purpose. It has as one of its 
functions the establishment of limits on the size and power of various 
departments and divisions, through the maintenance of a relatively close 
relationship between plans and reality. Budgets tend to restrict the proc- 
ess of empire building and introduce some degree of balance in the ex- 
penditures and staffing of die various groups. They represent an attempt 
to reach an agreement on the allocation of available funds and resources. 
Without this agreement, conflict can easily break out over each expendi- 
ture, and one function may assume such a dominant position as to en- 
danger the organization. Marketing might, for instance, gain a preferred 
status and develop a sales force so large and effective that all the orders 
cannot possibly be filled, because the funds that might have been used 
for plant, equipment, and the wages of production workers have already 
been allocated to marketing. 

In essence, then, organization charts, job descriptions, and control pro- 
cedures have as one of their functions the reduction of conflict and the 
maintenance of overall organizational goals. Where these procedures are 
successful, individual and group objectives can be retained in a subordi- 
nate position and energies can be devoted primarily to performance and 
profit maximization. When these formal approaches break down and 
there is no agreement on power allocation and areas of jurisdiction, con- 
flict is likely to become rampant. Efforts may be increasingly directed 
against enemies within rather than without the company. Finally organ- 
izational goals may be almost forgotten and performance may assume a 
relatively insignificant position. Conflict, in one way or another, diverts 
the energies of individuals from their normal work duties ( 138 ) . 

For some people the matter of planning strategies and carrying out 
sorties against internal adversaries becomes so time-consuming that activ- 
ities related to the company as a whole are displaced. Other individuals 
become immersed in trying to circumscribe and control the conflict, to 
reestablish formal procedures and organization in the company. Al- 
though this peacemaker role appears more laudable from the viewpoint 
of the firm as a whole, it still usually leaves no more time for other aspects 
of job performance. Many a company president has become so bogged 
down trying to reconcile differences between his vice-presidents that he 

176 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

has been unable to deal effectively with other company problems. Where 
the conflict spreads so that a large percentage of the employees are en- 
gaged, either as contestants or referees, the probability of organizational 
disintegration is very high. The company may be forced into a merger or 
bankruptcy, or it may continue with the help of external support. But 
it is unlikely to become a profitable enterprise as long as internal conflict 
remains rampant. The various concerns which have gone out of business 
as a result of labor-management strife provide a conspicuous example. 

Much has been written recently regarding the "organization man," 
some of it quite derogatory. Yet people who are motivated to conform 
to the policies and procedures of the firm do provide a bulwark against 
the ravages of internal conflict. Studies indicate that when a man an- 
ticipates pleasure in achieving success, in receiving help and instruction, 
or in gaining some other goal, and believes he can attain this emotional 
state through conforming behavior, he is likely to resort consistently to 
conformity as a means of satisfying his motive (159). If this motive is a 
dominant one, then deviance will rarely emerge in his behavior. Thus, 
the truly ambitious man may become a conformist on the job because he 
expects it to pay off. This means that many people, especially those with 
strong motives that can be satisfied at work, are easily influenced to be- 
come "organization men." Because of the very obvious benefits in terms of 
reduced potential for internal conflict, it is not surprising that business 
firms, like nearly all large organizations in our society, have tended to 
foster conformity in their managements. It is, of course, possible that by 
making such a strong commitment to conflict minimization, they have 
suffered a considerable loss in other aspects of performance effectiveness. 

The relationship between the extent of conformity and the level of per- 
formance is only beginning to receive scientific attention. No one really 
knows under what conditions and in what jobs conformists are most 
likely to prove successful, and conversely under what conditions devi- 
ance is desirable from a company viewpoint. Initial results of research 
at the middle management level appear to be conflicting ( 146, 154 ) , but 
this may be because differing conceptions of the nature of conformity 
have been employed by the researchers or because different types of 
organizations were studied. At the top management level it has been 
widely contended that nonconformity is characteristic and, in fact, nec- 
essary to successful performance (143). However, such evidence as is 
available does not provide unqualified support for this position (153). 
Company officers do appear to be less conforming on the average than 
their subordinates in the management ranks, but there are many who 
must be considered marked conformists by any definition. When these 
top management people are compared with others of the same age, even 
this general tendency disappears. As a group they are no less conforming 

The Company 111 

than men in other occupations who have Hved as long and who have at- 
tained a similar educational and intellectual level. It appears that their 
age rather than their specific type of employment is the crucial determi- 
nant. Older people generally are relatively noncomforming. Apparently 
also, deviance increases with advancing age ( 154 ) . The company officers 
in their fifties and sixties who appear to be anything but "organization 
men" may have presented a diflFerent picture during their younger days. 

These studies have been extended to include an analysis of the rela- 
tionship between measures of conformity and success at this very highest 
level. Of the men tested, approximately half were listed in Who's Who in 
America. Those who had achieved a listing and those who had not 
achieved one were compared in terms of conformity scores. The analysis 
revealed no real differences between the groups. There was no evidence 
that nonconformity is particularly likely to be found in association with 
success in top management. The outstanding managers were in some 
cases clearly "organization men." Perhaps they worked for companies 
with a high conflict potential and a need for the stability that conform- 
ity at high levels might provide. Others with Who's Who listings gave 
evidence of considerable deviance. 

It appears, then, that conformity, like the more formal processes of con- 
trol, is important in contributing to the survival of a company. With- 
out some conflict-reducing procedures, no firm could exist as a profit- 
making organization for very long. On the other hand, excessive control 
and too much pressure to conformity can clearly have stultifying effects 
(144) and reduce innovation to a bare minimum. A balance is often diffi- 
cult to achieve, even though it is essential to the maximization of effec- 
tiveness within a company. 



In the case of the largest social unit which may affect per- 
formance, the society of which the man is a member, various cultural 
influences serve as the actual strategic factors in failure. By a culture is 
meant the total way of life of a people, the modes of behavior and 
thought which become cumulative and are transmitted from generation 
to generation (167). For purposes of performance analysis the crucial 
determinants are the cultural values — the concepts of right and wrong, 
good and bad, which constitute the ethical systems and moral precepts 
as well as the aspirations and ideals of society. 

More specifically, cultural values are the widely accepted directives 
which establish modes of social relations, achievement or performance 
patterns, goals, approved types of gratification, and social ideals for a 
society (168). Examples are human dignity, patriotism, sexual moral- 
ity, private property, religious beliefs, honesty, heroism, democracy, re- 
spectability, fair play, cleanliness, equal opportunity, success, and indi- 
vidual freedom. There are many more, but these should be sufficient for 

Such generally accepted concepts of right and wrong serve to direct 
the behavior of society's members. They are thus instrumental to much 
of human motivation. They establish anticipated sources of pleasure and 
distress, indicating acceptable means of achieving positive emotional 
experiences and of avoiding negative ones. Thus, this chapter will deal 
with strategic factors very similar to those discussed in Chapter 4. But 
here the emphasis is on cultural rather than individual motivation — on 
the things which, as members of our particular society, we have learned 
to believe should be done. Although these motives exist in specific indi- 
viduals, they derive from society as a whole. The distinction between 
individual and cultural motivation may seem unimportant at this point; 
after all, motives are motives. As will be seen, however, whether a motive 


180 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

is relatively unique to the person or is a derivative of his culture can have 
considerable significance for performance analysis and for the reduction 
of ineffectiveness. 

Since cultural values serve to define the material in this chapter, an ini- 
tial section will be devoted to a general discussion of these societal im- 
peratives, including matters of variation and change, transmission, con- 
flict, and specific influence. Research dealing with the values character- 
izing a number of culture groups is cited. Then the various ways in which 
cultural factors may become strategic will be taken up, with special atten- 
tion to certain values which occupy positions of importance in American 
culture and in the business world — equity, individual freedom, proscrip- 
tions against the taking of human life, sexual morality, honesty, and the 
liberal ideology. A final section will discuss the types of action which 
may be taken when societal factors have been established as strategic. 

The Nature of Cultural Values 

It is the essence of cultural values that they provide the individual 
members of a society with explicit guidelines for their behavior. There 
is no need to think about alternatives; as long as one's actions are in ac- 
cord with these directives, the possibility of being judged wrong by the 
majority does not exist. Thus society makes available to its members an 
automatic mechanism which can serve as a silent agent for the selection 
and channeling of behavior. Experiments indicate that we become par- 
ticularly sensitive to positively valued objects, whUe our perception of 
that which is negatively valued is often delayed. Similarly, young chil- 
dren have been found to exaggerate the perceived size of cultural symbols 
in accordance with the value placed on them ( 163, 164). 

The methods employed to perpetuate a culture are complex, and an 
extended discussion is certainly beyond the scope of this volume. Basi- 
cally, the cultural heritage is transmitted from one generation to another 
through the actions and words of parents and associates. The same things 
are said and taught over and over again in homes and schools throughout 
the country, and thus a uniformity of behavior and thought is created. If 
a child acts in a manner which is inconsistent with accepted values (per- 
haps he is dishonest or impolite) the parents can be expected to feel 
acutely uncomfortable and to seek a reduction in their distress by forc- 
ing the child to do what is culturally defined as right. Punishments may 
well be invoked. Eventually the child comes to accept the values as 
guides to his own behavior, because he has learned that only in this 
way can he escape the unpleasant emotions that so often accompany devi- 
ance. The values become part of individual motivational hierarchies, and 
actions, or even thoughts, which are at variance with them take on the 

Society and Its Values 181 

capacity to elicit intense feelings of guilt and shame. Thus the culture 
imposes its control over individual motives which might be detrimental 
to it (166). 

It is, then, in the nature of values that they are closely allied to the 
emotions. Actions or impulses which deviate may well provoke extreme 
and intense feelings. A man may experience considerable guilt if he him- 
self deviates. Or, if others in their treatment of him do not follow the pat- 
terns he considers right, he may react with rage and resentment. Parents 
pass on the values of their culture because they feel they must. Should 
they fail to participate in this perpetuation process, they can expect to 
have strong feelings of guilt and shame. 

This kind of negative motivation often operates even when the parents 
themselves do not follow the cultural dictates they teach. Children are 
sent to Sunday school by adults who do not go to church. Chastity and 
morality are taught by some of the most sexually promiscuous parents. 
Because of these emotional concomitants, cultural values often take on a 
compulsive, demanding quality, which makes them very resistant to 
change. They may thus assume a position of considerable dominance in 
an individual's motivational hierarchy. 

As has already been imphed, values are neither universal nor univer- 
sally acted upon within a society. They are by definition widely accepted, 
and behavior generally tends to be in accord with them, but there are 
numerous exceptions. Other motives may hold a more dominant position 
and therefore determine behavior when a conflict arises. The individual 
may experience guilt, yet still find his value overruled. On occasion, peo- 
ple hold conflicting values. Many believe in individualism and the sur- 
vival of the fittest, at least in an economic sense, while at the same time 
espousing group loyalty and patriotism. Others laud democracy as a basis 
for social organization while pointing out that no business could operate 
effectively without a firm hand at the top (171). Clearly, values may 
be established at different levels in the motivational hierarchies of differ- 
ent individuals and thus may have varying probabilities of influencing 
behavior. We are not all subjected to identical cultural learning expe- 

In addition, cultures tend to change their values. The process is with- 
out doubt a gradual one, and the conditions which foster it have not been 
established with any precision. It is known, however, that some individ- 
uals experience the change prior to others, so that a culture in transition 
can hold values which are sharply at variance. Some people have al- 
ready adopted the new; others retain the old. Certainly the United 
States at present is in the process of change, and its values are far from 
universally held ( 170 ) . The partial Westernization of Japan provides an- 
other example ( 183 ) . 

182 The Management of Inefective Performance 

Finally, there are within each culture various subcultures associated 
with classes, castes, ethnic groups, geographical groupings, etc. Each 
holds its own set of values, which may or may not coincide exactly with 
those of the larger unit. Studies indicate that independence and individ- 
ual initiative are more highly valued among Protestants and Jews 
than among Catholics in the United States. Similarly, the emphasis on 
these qualities is more pronounced among the Irish than among those 
with Italian origins ( 172 ) . In another study active, future-oriented, indi- 
vidualistic, and nonfatalistic value systems have been found to predomi- 
nate in the middle and upper classes. Such values are likely to be lacking 
among people of lower socioeconomic standing ( 176 ) . 

These findings regarding ethnic and social class differences in values 
have been supported and extended by some research conducted in New 
Haven, Connecticut (180). Groups with Jewish and Italian origins were 
compared with respect to a number of values thought to be associated 
with success and achievement. The Jews were found to place more em- 
phasis on planning for the purpose of controlling one's own destiny, on 
breaking away from parents and making one's own way in life, on indi- 
vidual credit for accomplishments, and on the perfectibility of man 
through education and training. The Italians, on the other hand, viewed 
life in more fatalistic terms, placed more emphasis on continued close 
family relationships and collective rewards, and considered education 
less important. In both groups, personal control of one's own destiny, 
freedom from the family, and individual credit were valued more highly 
by the people of higher social status. 

As these studies indicate, subcultural groups can hold values which 
are at variance with those of the larger society and thus can contribute 
to cultural diversity. But smaller social units do not always exhibit this 
tendency. The Japanese-Americans are a case in point. Like the domi- 
nant middle class in the United States they stress politeness, respect for 
authority, cleanliness, personal achievement, subordination of immediate 
satisfactions to long-range goals, and community responsibility. Although 
these values do not derive from the same roots as those of the larger cul- 
ture ( 161 ) , the end results are almost identical. 

Other studies of various national cultures provide further insight into 
the nature of values. In one of these, similar groups of insurance clerks 
in England and America were compared ( 165 ) . Although politeness and 
obedience were valued by both groups, they were more important to the 
British. Self-reliance, kindness, and not creating a nuisance were also 
more frequently valued in England. The Americans, on the other hand, 
put a greater emphasis on respect for parents and authority, sincerity, 
honesty, getting along with others, individuality, and being unselfish. 

Another investigation contrasted feelings of obligation to self and so- 

Society and Its Values 183 

ciety among upper-middle-class German and American boys who were 
about to enter college (173). In Germany, obligation to oneself tended 
to be interpreted in terms of concern for rational striving, for participa- 
tion in individualistic activities, and for the exercise of self-restraint. To- 
ward society there was a strong feeling of duty, a commitment to an 
idealistic code of decency. The boys brought up in the United States, on 
the other hand, viewed their obligation to themselves in terms of personal 
striving for success and more or less egocentric self-development. They 
felt that they owed society more participation in group activities and a 
greater sensitivity to the opinions of others than the German boys did. 

A final study introduces the performance relationship and will thus 
serve as a bridge to the next section ( 75 ) . Figures from thirty -four coun- 
tries throughout the world were analyzed to determine the rapidity of 
economic development since the mid-1920s. The values of these cultures 
were then ascertained by coding statements appearing in typical chil- 
dren's readers. A group of these books from the 1920s and another group 
published around 1950 were obtained from each country. During both 
periods, the "growth" countries were found to have certain predominant 
values which could be presumed to have contributed in some manner to 
their subsequent rapid economic development. One of these values was a 
type of antitraditionalism: that is, the emphasis on control of the individ- 
ual by institutions such as the church, government, business, the educa- 
tional system, and the family was much more pronounced in countries 
which had experienced relatively little economic development. Another 
value involved purposefulness in social interaction. In the developing 
countries it was important that contacts with other people be made with 
a specific objective in mind. Where this purposefulness in relationships 
with others was not emphasized, there was likely to be less economic 
growth, presumably because of reduced efiiciency. Finally, the value 
placed on hard work was much greater in the countries which had pro- 
gressed more rapidly. 

The Performance Relationship 

The extent to which different kinds of sanctions are invoked to enforce 
society's values varies considerably. Some values have been converted 
into formal statutes and thus receive the support of the whole legal sys- 
tem. Others are perpetuated by informal social pressures and the pros- 
pect of ostracism. In general the distinction between these two types 
seems to be based on the degree of potential threat to the survival of 
society. Lying is, in itself, not characteristically punishable through legal 
action, but when it occurs in court under oath and impedes the conduct 
of justice, it is defined as perjury. Since overt aggression and uncontrolled 

184 The Management of Ineffective Fei-formance 

conflict between members are most likely to result in the eventual disso- 
lution of any social unit ( a country as well as a company ) , legal sanctions 
are particularly prevalent in this area. Conflicts can easily develop over 
private property and relationships between the sexes, and for this reason, 
laws regulating such matters are numerous. Similarly, any kind of physi- 
cal attack on another member of the society tends to be rigidly pro- 

The performance effects associated with the codification of society's 
values derive primarily from the sanctions employed. Fines do not 
necessarily have any direct impact on a man's work, but extended im- 
prisonment removes him from the employment situation entirely. In addi- 
tion, the mere fact of conviction may serve to make a man ineffective in 
certain types of work. A salesman may lose many of his customers, or an 
individual whose job requires bonding may not be able to meet the con- 
ditions. In these cases and others of a similar nature, members of society 
impose sanctions, whether intended as such or not, beyond those im- 
posed by the courts. Probably the people most vulnerable to this societal 
pressure are those at the highest levels. Should the financial community 
lose confidence in a top management because the members have failed to 
meet cultural values as interpreted in the law, the company may be un- 
able to obtain financing which is necessary to its growth or survival. 

This brings us once again to the matter of inappropriate criteria and 
standards. A salesman may fail because he has come in conflict with so- 
ciety's values and his customers have imposed what amounts to a boy- 
cott. In this instance he is clearly ineffective. Inappropriate criteria are 
not involved. It is also possible, however, that the company may define 
a man as ineffective on the basis of his failure to abide by cultural values, 
without any reference to actual performance. The firm may take it for 
granted that a salesman who runs afoul of the law will automatically be 
rejected by his customers. Yet this need not be the case. The customers 
may not learn of his difficulties, or they may not care. It is even conceiv- 
able that the fact of conviction might serve to increase acceptance and 
sales volume. In certain slum neighborhoods, for example, respect for 
the law is at such a low ebb and illegal behavior so prevalent that a crim- 
inal record might prove to be an asset. 

The important point is this: The values of the larger society and the 
requirements for organizational effectiveness do not always coincide 
exactly. Something can be good or bad in terms of the culture as a whole 
without having the same implications for company objectives. A man 
can be guilty of conduct which is at considerable variance with cultural 
values but continue to make a distinct contribution to his employer. 
Therefore, when values are invoked as if they were performance criteria, 
a sizable amount of ineffectiveness by definition will result. In such cases 

Society and Its Values 185 

the culture itself plays a strategic role in the failure. And the company 
may find itself performing in a quasi-legal capacity which is in direct 
opposition to its role as a business organization. 

This is not to say that cultural values and the goals of business enter- 
prise are necessarily conflicting, or that companies do not have to live 
within the constraints imposed by the legal and ethical systems of the 
larger society. Clearly, many values, especially those associated with hard 
work and individual initiative, tend to reinforce employee motivation 
and thus contribute to a firm's profitability. And the dictates of society 
serve to proscribe many actions while at the same time indicating the 
appropriate scope of the economic function. It is society which estab- 
lishes the rules of the game. Nevertheless, there is no need for an individ- 
ual firm to go beyond the legal sanctions and impose punishments or 
enforce values in a manner detrimental to organizational goals. Society 
itself has established appropriate institutions for this purpose. 

It is, of course, very difficult for many of us even to imagine establish- 
ing policies which might seem to condone behavior that we consider bad. 
Our first reaction to instances of homosexuality, adultery, atheism, and 
the like, may be one of disgust, and our initial impulse to get the man as 
far away from us as possible. Yet if we act on this impulse and terminate 
employment, we permit our values to assume a strategic role, and per- 
formance failure becomes a matter of definition only. The fact that com- 
panies and individual managers do this rather frequently is indicative of 
the great significance which values do hold in motivation. 

One of the major factors contributing to decisions of this kind, either 
at the corporate level or at the level of the individual manager, is the di- 
versity within the larger culture. A worker and his superior may well come 
from different ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Their conceptions of 
right and wrong may be sufficiently far apart so that it is almost impos- 
sible for one to see why the other acts as he does. The result can be con- 
siderable misunderstanding and the application of performance criteria 
which have little relationship to company objectives. There is reason to 
believe that occupational success is not infrequently associated with con- 
gruence between the values of the individual and those of his superiors. 
Studies of educational grading practices indicate that where such con- 
gruence between teacher and student is lacking, marks are likely to be 
lower (164). 

In summary, cultural values may affect performance directly if they 
have been converted into statutes. Thus, a man can fail because he goes 
to prison. Representatives of society can also, through their concerted 
action in support of widely held beliefs, establish conditions which make 
effective performance impossible. Furthermore, values may influence 
performance criteria and standards at either the organizational or group 

186 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

level. To this list should probably be added the case where cultural homo- 
geneity within a group at work leads to the ostracism of a deviant indi- 
vidual who fails to live up to the standards of right and wrong held by 
his fellows. The rejected person may be unable to weather this process 
emotionally, and his work may suflFer. 

But a major source of difficulty, quite independent of the group, the 
organization, or even of the direct action of society as a whole, involves 
the influence of cultural values on the specific actions of the people who 
fail. A man may become ineffective because the values derived from his 
culture lead him to act in ways which are inconsistent with the demands 
of his job. A conflict develops between cultural directives as perceived 
by the individual and work requirements. In such cases the man may con- 
tinue to live by his values and so fail on the job. Or he may attempt to 
overcome these cultural imperatives and comply with the demands of 
his position, only to experience considerable guilt and shame. Probably 
the most common reaction involves both kinds of behavior. The man gets 
very upset and finds it impossible to concentrate on his work, and at the 
same time he tries to diminish his emotional distress by avoiding certain 
job activities which he considers particularly bad. Prolonged stress of 
this kind can contribute to either a neurosis or a psychosis. 

The following example, although hypothetical, could occur. Suppose 
that a man because of his cultural origins has long accepted the dictate 
that the masculine sex should demand obedience of "the weaker sex." 
Unexpectedly, he finds himself reporting to a female boss. He believes it 
is bad to permit a woman to direct his activities, just as many young 
sons consider obedience to their mothers a sign of weakness and inferior- 
ity. But at the same time he wants to progress in his work and do a good 
job. The outcome might be a series of outbursts directed at his new 
boss. On the other hand, he might attempt to adopt a more subservient 
attitude, only to find himself so overcome with shame that he cannot 
keep his mind on his work. Perhaps he might alternate between attempts 
to demonstrate his superiority and periods of submission during which 
frequent errors occur in his work. 

Specific Values Influencing Those Who Fail 

Although the example above provides a helpful initial illustration, it is 
rather atypical. There are similar beliefs, however, which in the writer's 
experience are particularly likely to contribute to performance failure. 
This section will take up some of these instances in considerable detail. Of 
course, the values noted, necessarily represent only a sample of the con- 
ceptions regarding right and wrong which individuals can bring into the 
workplace to the detriment of their performance. 

Society and Its Values 187 

One such strategic factor is the value placed on equity or fair play in 
the United States. Parents characteristically teach their children the 
concept at an early age, although they often come to regret it as they 
are besieged with appeals to their own sense of fairness. It is unfair that 
one child should get something another does not get. It is unfair to break 
a promise, whether implied or stated. It is unfair to require something 
that other parents do not require. The examples can be multiplied many 
times for both children and adults. 

At work, difficulties frequently arise when the company or an imme- 
diate superior acts in a way which makes a man feel that he has been 
treated unjustly. If the man is merely attempting to blame others for his 
own shortcomings, there is, of course, no relationship to the culture. Ef- 
forts to find a scapegoat often look very much like value problems, but 
they are not. If the man feels he has been treated unfairly, however, and 
most people who share his cultural background would tend to support 
him, then the causation probably goes beyond the level of the individ- 
ual and becomes social in nature. 

It is important to emphasize that infringement of the sense of fair play 
need not have an impact on performance. Many people who experience 
numerous inequities do not decline in effectiveness. They may even be- 
come quite upset about the wrongs done them without permitting their 
work to suffer. But in some cases the value of fairness is held with such 
intensity or the provocation is so flagrant that performance failure does 
occur. This may happen in two ways. The man may become convinced 
that he is justified in expressing his dissatisfaction, or even that he is obli- 
gated to do so. As a result he stirs up other employees, refuses to do his 
own work, and in general becomes uncooperative and difficult to deal 
with. On the other hand, he may resort to defenses such as repression 
and denial in an effort to blot out the sources of his anger and the im- 
pulses which they arouse. There is convincing evidence that this response 
to inequitable treatment is widely utilized among Negroes in the south- 
ern part of the United States ( 169 ) . It can contribute to severe emotional 
illness and to the performance effects noted in Chapter 3. 

The potential causes of such reactions in industry are many: unful- 
filled promises regarding conditions of employment, promotion of a man 
with considerably less seniority, discriminatory treatment because of sex 
or race, insufficient recognition for services performed, inequities in pay- 
ment, etc. Among union-represented employees the grievance system pro- 
vides a sanctioned outlet for the feelings thus aroused, and for that reason 
there may be a continuing flood of formal complaints where inequitable 
conditions are believed to exist. There is a tendency among some man- 
agement groups to interpret these high grievance rates as indicative of 
union pressure tactics having little relationship to actual employee feel- 

188 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ings. This, of course, can be entirely correct. But it is probable that value 
problems, and in particular, violations of the sense of fair play, represent 
a much more common cause. One inequity perpetrated against a single 
man can produce a whole series of grievances, as well as extensive work 
stoppage. Others who hold the same values as the aggrieved man can be 
expected to react emotionally as he does, and there is a good chance that 
they will take up his cause. 

Another value which appears to have major implications for perform- 
ance is individual freedom. In the United States it is widely held that a 
person should, within very broad limits, be permitted as much freedom 
as possible to live in accordance with his own desires. This is so much a 
part of the entire culture that it has been codified in the Bill of Rights. 
Yet studies indicate that there are sizable differences in the importance 
of this value for people entering upon different careers (177). Architec- 
ture, journalism, drama, art, natural and social science, advertising, pub- 
lic relations, engineering, and teaching seem to attract those who value 
freedom highly. Sales promotion, hotel management, real estate, finance, 
personnel, government service, and general business do so to a much 
lesser extent. Furthermore, the value is apparently more strongly held 
among those employed on university faculties than in most other seg- 
ments of society. Academic freedom is without question a potent factor 
on the campus. It is frequently employed as a guide to decision making 
and policy formulation within the university community, and it is de- 
fended with a great deal of vigor. 

In the business world the emphasis on freedom is probably most pro- 
nounced among physical scientists engaged in research and development 
activities. It is marked in a number of other business occupations as well, 
but the scientists appear to represent the largest group. Most have been 
exposed to long periods of university training as undergraduate and grad- 
uate students. A number have been employed on faculties at one time or 
another. In addition, much of the work is creative and intellectual in na- 
ture, and it is among intellectuals that freedom appears to be valued 
most highly in American society. An especially strong commitment to 
freedom might be considered characteristic of the whole scientific sub- 

This value clearly has functional importance for the work of the indus- 
trial scientist. For one thing, it permits statements of the "I don't know" 
type which are so essential to the formulation of problems for research. 
To be maximally effective the scientist must be free to investigate prob- 
lems even though they may appear to have been solved already, and in 
spite of the fact that immediate applications may not be evident ( 175 ) . 

But the matter of problem formulation is not the only reason why 
freedom is essential for scientific productivity. The creative process itself 

Society and Its Values 189 

is aflFected. A detailed analysis of what occurs when novel scientific ideas 
are developed suggests that a number of conditions are necessary (181). 
There must be strong motivation in the area of learning and ideas. This 
must be wedded to intense excitement, which is anticipated and experi- 
enced when creative effort is in progress. Excitement of this kind appears 
to be the crucial emotional factor in the motivation of creative work, mak- 
ing it possible for the scientist to return again and again to his problem 
in a manner suggestive of a sizable stubborn streak. To this must be added 
a quality which no doubt strikes many people as a sort of conceited nega- 
tivism — the capacity to reject or ignore consistently the directives and 
conclusions of others. The result may be that the most creative scientists 
are likely to have a detrimental effect on the work of their associates. Hos- 
tility to the ideas of others and singleness of purpose appear to be essen- 
tial conditions for the pursuit of new solutions, but they do not always 
make for close friendships or serve to encourage competitive scientific 

Actual studies of creative and original individuals tend to support 
these conclusions (160). Such people prefer complexity, uncertainty, 
and disorder in the world of ideas presumably because of the opportu- 
nity provided for imposing a new order on things themselves. They are 
self-assertive, tend to express their emotions rather freely, and reject reg- 
ulation by others. They are relatively nonconforming (162). There is also 
reason to believe that the creative scientist is so strongly dedicated to the 
future that mundane affairs of the present are often ignored ( 174, 182 ) . 
This orientation may be coupled with a rather extreme degree of confi- 
dence that events will occur in accordance with his wishes, intentions, 
and expectations. 

Creative and effective scientific performance, then, is likely to occur 
in conjunction with intellectual preoccupation, intense excitement, stub- 
bornness, hostility, conceit, a contentious and perhaps domineering, atti- 
tude, deviance, a dislike of the orderly and correct, freedom of emo- 
tional expression, and a tendency to live in the future. Many of these 
qualities are suggestive of an individual who is not always easy to get 
along with. Yet most of them appear to be essential to really effective 
performance in research positions. An environment which would restrict 
or suppress these tendencies would almost certainly eliminate creativity 
at the same time. It is not surprising, therefore, that scientists value indi- 
vidual freedom so highly. 

How, then, does a strong concern for freedom contribute to ineffective 
performance? As has been noted, the creative scientist can have a nega- 
tive impact on the work of others. The quantity and quality of his work 
may be outstanding, and at the same time he can stir up all kinds of dis- 
sension in the laboratory. His constant stream of new ideas may be 

190 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

matched by a complete lack of creative accomplishment among those 
who work with him. His hostility to proposals which are in any way anti- 
thetical to his own may have a stifling effect on younger and less experi- 
enced men. In spite of their emphasis on individual freedom, creative 
people may well not exhibit much tolerance of others, at least in the realm 
of ideas. 

Secondly, the concern with freedom, together with the personality 
characteristics which this releases and fosters, may conflict with job de- 
mands other than those in the area of creative production. Any company 
requires a degree of cooperative effort in order to survive. Loyalty and a 
willingness to acquiesce in the decisions of others are essential to this kind 
of cooperative effort. These factors assume particular importance in re- 
search establishments, because the people employed there often possess 
knowledge which, if it became available to competitors, could have an ad- 
verse effect on company profits. The generally high turnover among 
scientific personnel only serves to accentuate this problem. Thus the loy- 
alty of research scientists is a constant source of concern to many indus- 
trial managers. As a result, multiple controls are often installed to ensure 
against a breakdown of cooperative effort. Sometimes the rewards that 
the company has to offer are bestowed for long service, obedience to 
authority, friendliness, and conformity rather than creative research. In 
such instances the danger is that success as defined by the company be- 
comes available only to those who are really less effective — to those who 
have given up their values and their creativity. 

This conflict between the scientific role, with its high valuation of free- 
dom and creativity, and the role of a company member, with its emphasis 
on cooperation and loyalty, is apparently felt most intensely by the 
younger men (179). Some may resolve it by what may appear as an 
extreme devotion to freedom and nonconformity. Some may resolve it 
by leaving the company entirely. Others may not really resolve it at all, 
and may experience intense and continuing emotions which make effec- 
tive work impossible. In such people guilt and anxiety tend to predomi- 
nate, but intense outbursts of anger may also occur. 

It is important to emphasize a factor which has already been implied 
in the preceding discussion. The products of creative work are by defini- 
tion products which a particular culture values. Merely being new and 
different need not constitute creativity (178). This means that cultural 
values tend to channel and define creative effort. For many hundreds of 
years the only truly great art produced in Europe was of a religious na- 
ture, because religious values were paramount. Thus a culture can serve 
to limit, direct, or even abolish creativity. Similarly, a company can 
establish performance standards and criteria and provide rewards in such 
a way as to ensure the almost complete absence of original work. There 

Society and Its Values 191 

are companies which have been investing huge sums in research for years, 
yet have never come up with a really new product or process. In some 
such instances the whole research eflFort might be considered ineffective. 

In addition to equity and freedom, there are other values of a more 
strictly moral nature which can affect performance. Often these have 
roots in early religious training. The proscription against killing is of this 
type. Many people in the armed services during wartime develop severe 
emotional disorders when caught between the demands of combat assign- 
ments and their cultural values ( 38 ) . Many more either do not fire their 
weapons or deliberately miss. Even further removed from conflict and 
guilt are conscientious objectors and pacifists, who are permitted to fol- 
low their values and religious teachings by serving entirely outside the 
framework of the armed forces. In all these cases the individuals find it 
impossible to suspend their moral principles during wartime. 

This is not purely a military problem, however. Similar difficulties can 
arise in the manufacture of products which might be used either to fight 
a war or to take human life under any other circumstances. Those who 
hold strong values regarding killing may well refuse to do certain kinds 
of work which they consider bad. At such times a man may show con- 
siderable reticence regarding the cause of his refusal; his reaction can 
appear quite irrational. Or should he attempt to continue in work of 
this kind in spite of his values, there is a good chance that he will fail. 
The guilt aroused by continued exposure to a situation which he can only 
view as sinful tends to make effective performance very difficult. Sporadic 
attempts at escape may also result in considerable absenteeism. 

It is possible for performance to be affected even when the work's rela- 
tionship to killing seems quite indirect to other people. The writer knows 
of instances where young men employed on research projects in the area 
of military screening and placement have not been able to do the work 
because of strongly held values. All were competent individuals with out- 
standing academic records and histories of satisfactory employment. But 
while working on the military research they seemed to feel that they 
were contributing to the development of personnel procedures which 
could ultimately serve only to perfect the art of killing on a grand scale. 
As a result they became preoccupied with guilt, to the point where one 
man with advanced training in mathematics failed over and over in at- 
tempting to add a column of figures on a desk calculator. 

Values in the area of sexual morality may operate in a similar man- 
ner. In some work environments, four-letter words are heard rather fre- 
quently, and there is a good deal of joking along sexual lines. To 
certain people with strong feelings about such matters, these environ- 
ments represent a major source of distress. The result may be a decre- 
ment in performance because the man feels guilt by association. More 

192 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

frequently he will become irritable, argumentative, and critical of his 
fellow workers. On occasion he may berate the group en masse, with a 
generally disruptive effect. Eventually people of this kind may be ex- 
pected to resign, but not before they have heaped condemnation on 
everyone around. 

There may also be value conflicts associated with feelings about hon- 
esty. No doubt some jobs require their incumbents to engage in sharp 
practices, to lie, and perhaps even to behave in ways which are clearly 
illegal. But these are presumably rare. It is more common for a man to 
view his work as basically dishonest and thus to either avoid certain as- 
pects of it or experience guilt while performing it. The borderline be- 
tween good and bad is often hard to establish precisely, and those with 
strong values can easily accentuate things which to others might appear 
quite appropriate. This is apparently a common problem among sales- 
men (46), since for some people the whole selling and advertising proc- 
ess comes to represent a colossal racket, an attempt to steal the money of 
others by forcing them to buy a worthless product which they do not 
want and cannot use. Should a person with such beliefs, and with strong 
values regarding honesty and humanitarian behavior, find himself in a 
sales position, he may well become obsessed by guilt. The resulting 
impact on performance is not entirely predictable, but it is unlikely to be 
positive. The man may fail to carry out those duties which he considers 
dishonest. He may quit. His guilt may interfere directly with his work, 
even to the point where he fails deliberately in order to expiate his sin. Or 
he may condemn the company to his customers and point out every con- 
ceivable defect in the products he is supposed to be selling. 

Something similar can occur merely as a result of being employed in a 
competitive profit-making organization. Many people whose values lead 
them to consider the business world reprehensible avoid employment 
in it, but some are attracted by money or other factors and thus delib- 
erately expose themselves to a work environment in which they are likely 
to fail. The man who, because of a certain subculture membership or 
some other factor, holds strong liberal values, is almost certain to face 
considerable difficulty if he enters an organization which represents the 
essence of capitalism and private investment for profit. The situation is 
not unlike that of the pacifist who enters military service. Luckily for the 
individuals involved and for many managers, a high proportion of those 
who begin college with the intention of preparing for business, and who 
have a value conflict of the type described, subsequently change their 
minds and enter some other type of occupation. Among those who do 
follow through on their original plans, there are many who adapt their 
values to their new environment ( 177 ) . Where neither of these occur, the 
probability of performance failure is high. 

Society and Its Values 193 

Possible Types of Managerial Action 

Problems created by value conflicts are among the most difficult a 
manager faces. Many are beyond his power to solve. This is certainly 
true where a subordinate has been imprisoned for a crime. It is usually also 
true when society acts through boycott or other concerted action to de- 
prive a man of the customers, bonding, financing, etc., required for effec- 
tive performance. At such times the only feasible method of retaining the 
man in the company at all is to transfer him to a position where he is less 
vulnerable to the effects of public action and censure. Whether this is 
an appropriate solution depends largely on the reactions of the people 
with whom he would work inside the company and on his response to 
ostracism, if it should occur. Normally, successful transfers of this kind 
are more easily accomplished with lower-level personnel than with those 
in the top positions. There are few jobs in the upper echelons of any 
organization which do not have a high degree of public visibility. 

Where cultural values are involved in cases of failure by definition 
only the solutions are similar to those used when cultural values do not 
play a part (see Chapters 7 and 8). The only difference is that inappro- 
priate criteria and standards, whether introduced at the organizational 
level or by the immediate supervisor, are particularly resistant to change 
if they derive from the cultural heritage, since there is likely to be wide- 
spread support for the action. A manager who fires a man because he 
finds him personally repugnant may have few supporters. A manager 
who fires a man for immorality or Communist sympathies is likely 
to become somewhat of a hero. Public pressure will rarely be exerted to 
produce a change in inappropriate criteria which arise from value consid- 
erations. As a result the possibilities for change are drastically reduced. 
The same conclusion holds for ostracism by a group. It is very hard to 
change individuals or groups when there are a hundred others who will 
applaud them. 

When ineffective performance derives from a conflict between a per- 
son's values and job demands, similar difficulties arise. It is safe to assume 
that in cases of this kind a very strong motive is involved — a motive domi- 
nant enough, in fact, to win over all others which might militate against 
ineffective performance. In view of its cultural origins, this motive 
can furthermore be assumed to have widespread public support. The 
combination of the two factors makes it very difficult, if not impossible, 
to change cultural values once they have caused failure on the job. The 
values held by an individual do change, of course, but if this is likely it 
will probably occur long before performance is drastically affected. The 
presence of really unsatisfactory performance attributable to a value 

194 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

problem provides convincing evidence that modifications were not and 
probably are not possible. 

This means that any change which is to produce adequate perform- 
ance will normally have to be made in the job rather than in the indi- 
vidual. Usually this involves transfer to some other kind of work where 
the specific values responsible for failure will not be activated, although 
a change in the conditions of the present job may be possible on occa- 
sion. Unfortunately, many value responses involve factors which are al- 
most universal within a firm and which cannot be changed. The individ- 
ual whose liberal, anticapitalistic values are strategic for failure will bene- 
fit little from transfer to some other job in the company. Similarly, the 
scientist who requires an environment where there is greater respect for 
individual freedom is unlikely to find it anywhere else in the organization 
if it does not exist in the research establishment. Problems involving moral 
values can normally be handled by transfer, but not always. Salesmen 
who cannot live with their own "dishonesty" will usually improve if 
shifted to a position far removed from sales. And the man who is disturbed 
by the sexual immorality of his fellow workers can usually be placed 
where these problems do not arise, or where they are at least minimized. 
But the man who works for a defense contractor may not be able to get 
his negative image of the firm and of his own work out of his mind no 
matter what his specific assignment. Where value factors are strategic, 
there are clearly many cases which are best handled by dismissal or by 
trying to induce the man to resign. 

The matter of inequity requires a somewhat more detailed discussion. 
When a subordinate reacts to what he considers unfair treatment with 
sulking, resentment, and decreased work efiiciency, it is generally best 
for a manager to bring the problem into the open if the man has not done 
so. A lengthy conversation may not solve the problem, but it is unlikely 
that a solution will be found without it. At such times a detailed, logical 
explanation of why the action was taken should be presented. This need 
not be merely a series of excuses: Some inequities or seeming inequities 
are inevitable, and others, Hke promotion on the basis of merit rather than 
length of service, are even desirable from a managerial viewpoint. Most 
people will appreciate an explanation, however, and will at least partially 
accept a logical analysis. Certainly this is more likely to minimize future 
trouble and ineffective performance than a rigid insistence on managerial 
prerogatives in such matters. 

If the logical explanation is not accepted and the resentment continues 
or perhaps is even accentuated, a number of possibilities remain. One is 
that the action was in fact unnecessarily unfair and that therefore the 
attempted logical explanation fell flat. If so, every effort should be made 
to rectify the situation in order to restore effective performance. It may 

Society and Its Values 195 

also be that the matter is more emotional than cultural in nature. The 
individual may feel that he is being persecuted in many ways and may 
be unwilling to approach his problems in a rational manner. In such cases 
a discussion may not do much to solve the difficulty, but it can contribute 
information which makes it easier for the manager to distinguish between 
emotional and cultural causations. Another possibility is that the man- 
ager's values and those of the subordinate are so far apart that there is 
no common ground on which a solution can be built. At such times 
transfer is appropriate. If a man can be made effective by being assigned 
to a manager whose values are more congruent with his own, then the 
change should certainly be made. 

It has been noted that on occasion people modify their value systems 
to be in greater accord with vocational aspirations and actualities. Re- 
search indicates this is a much less common response to value conflict 
than a shift in occupational choice, but it clearly does occur ( 177 ) . The 
major determinant appears to be the existence of some motive which is of 
greater personal importance than the original value. Thus change, when 
it does occur, becomes largely a matter of expediency. If a man holds 
strong liberal values but also wants the money or prestige which he be- 
lieves is available in a business career, he may change his conception of 
the good economic system if his two motives come in conflict. In other 
words, he gradually adjusts his beliefs so that they do not force him to 
give up what he wants even more. 

In the same way, when a motive becomes strong throughout large seg- 
ments of a society, a great many people may change their values in order 
to satisfy the motive. When we need to protect our whole way of life, as 
during wartime, we may change many values which seem to conflict with 
this objective. Some of the changes are merely temporary; others are 
permanent. The idea that a woman's place is in the home disappeared 
almost entirely with World War II. The proportionate number of women 
holding full-time positions increased markedly in response to the require- 
ments of war, but the figure is now much higher than it ever was dur- 
ing the war years. As the external factors impinging on a society change 
and establish pressures for the adoption of new methods, the conditions 
which foster cultural adaptation are created. Value change, in the indi- 
vidual and in the aggregate, would appear to be largely a mater of ex- 
pediency — a mechanism adopted in order to protect and satisfy even 
more important values and motives. 



This chapter moves to a heterogeneous group of factors 
which di£Fer in several important respects from those previously dis- 
cussed. Chapters 2 through 5 dealt with aspects of the ineffective per- 
former himself — with his individual characteristics. In Chapters 6 
through 9 the focus shifted to the groups in which a subordinate typi- 
cally holds membership. The remaining strategic factors, which are basi- 
cally of two kinds, form the subject of this chapter. In the first case, per- 
formance is influenced by social forces operating independently of an 
individual's own group associations. Other people in their roles as mem- 
bers of other groups behave in ways having important implications for 
a man's effectiveness. In the second case, various characteristics of the 
physical situation in which the work is carried out operate as strategic 

These individual actions, or social forces, external to the man's own 
membership groups and the features of his physical environment make 
up this final group of factors contributing to performance failure. For 
lack of a better word, these determinants have been called situational, 
altliough a strict interpretation of the term would also include the aspects 
of the social environment discussed in Chapters 6 through 9. 

Some of the situational forces noted in this chapter are basically eco- 
nomic in nature. They include the condition of the labor market as it 
affects the availability of employment, the impact of competing firms on 
the performance of specific individuals, and certain governmental ac- 
tions which have economic impKcations. They also include union policies 
and decisions made at the level of the international union or of the labor 
movement as a whole. 

A second group of situational forces is primarily geographical. Aspects 
of climate and topography can combine with emotional or physical fac- 
tors to influence performance in important ways. So too can the degree 
of isolation of the environment in which the work is carried out and the 
novelty or strangeness which the situation presents. The factor of strange- 


198 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ness is allied to that of separation discussed in Chapter 6. For some peo- 
ple it is not so much the removal from loved ones which produces per- 
formance failure after reassignment, but the threat of the new and un- 
known itself. 

This chapter will also deal with the various conditions besides the 
social determinants noted previously, which may operate in the work- 
place itself. Noise, lighting, and temperature are particularly important. 
Also significant in many jobs are the design and operating condition of 
equipment employed in carrying out the work. In this connection we will 
take up some of the research being carried out in the rapidly expanding 
field of human engineering or engineering psychology. 

Subsequent sections will be devoted to various consequences asso- 
ciated with the degree of danger which actually exists or which the 
worker perceives in the work environment. Accident causation and safety 
will be discussed at some length, and special attention will be given to 
accident proneness. This factor might have been treated in earlier chap- 
ters, but it appears to fit particularly well into an analysis of the role 
which situational danger has in performance failure. Finally, the sub- 
jective danger situation, which influences work effectiveness primarily 
because of the emotions and motives aroused, will be presented in a dis- 
cussion parallel to that of Chapter 3 on emotions. The treatment here will 
develop more fully the contribution of unconscious motivation to situa- 
tionally specific fear reactions, however. Since the corrective actions 
applicable to the diverse factors covered in this chapter are in themselves 
quite varied, they will be taken up as they become appropriate rather 
than in a separate section. 

Economic Forces 

How, specifically, do the influences operating in the economic environ- 
ment surrounding a firm affect the performance of individuals? One such 
factor, the level of employment existing during a given period, has im- 
plications primarily for the way in which standards are established. Just 
as under tight labor-force conditions standards may be adjusted down- 
ward to ensure that someone will be available to fill essential positions, 
so under reverse conditions standards may be shifted up. When it is easy 
to hire a replacement and the chances are good that the new man will be 
satisfactory, there is some tendency to tighten up on current employees 
and expect more of them. Labor-market conditions of this kind elimi- 
nate one factor which normally serves to deter management from firing 
in cases of ineffectiveness. Thus raised standards of performance may be 
instituted as a preliminary to dismissal or demotion, on the assumption 
that the job can easily be filled from among the unemployed. In the 

Situational Forces 199 

United States, however, unemployment tends to strike primarily at the 
less well educated and those with minimal or obsolescent skills. Occupa- 
tional surpluses in highly skilled, managerial, and professional jobs have 
not occurred since the 1930s. Thus this type of situational factor is most 
likely to be present when the subordinate holds a job toward the bottom 
of the occupational hierarchy and when his particular position is on the 
verge of extinction. 

Depressed economic conditions may also operate directly on the em- 
ployee himself to produce a change in his work. In territories where un- 
employment is high and income levels low, it is not uncommon for sales- 
men to become so disillusioned and upset that they are unable to regain 
their former eflFectiveness when improvements in income levels do occur. 
In the Pittsburgh area, for instance, sizable reductions in retail purchases 
result whenever there is a strike in the steel industry. The impact on sales 
and salesmen can be considerable, even when managerial expectations 
are adjusted to existing conditions. Many young and inexperienced men 
intent on setting the world on fire interpret their declining figures as indic- 
ative of personal incompetence and become very disturbed. Unable to 
meet their own standards, they either quit prematurely or adopt an atti- 
tude of fatalistic helplessness; a few become really emotionally ill. De- 
pressed areas have ruined many a promising sales career, and even 
experienced men are not entirely immune. A continued inability to 
make sales is likely to be viewed as a personal defeat by any salesman, 
although in a rational sense it may be difficult to imagine how more could 
have been done under the circumstances. 

Something very similar may also occur at the top levels of a company. 
The officers may be at the mercy of situational influences and thus un- 
able to return a profit, yet the emotional impact of these economic condi- 
tions, over which they cannot possibly exercise control, may be suflBcient 
to incapacitate them almost completely. A few may resort to dishonest 
and illegal actions at such times; many more fail because of the direct 
influence of negative emotional states on performance. The incidence of 
emotional disorder and suicide attributable to the stock market crash of 
1929 was by no means infinitesimal. Of course, the tendency to adjust 
standards to existing conditions diminishes at these higher levels. A com- 
pany officer, like a football or baseball coach, may be held accountable 
for losses irrespective of his actual control over the situation. Thus, many 
an executive of outstanding capacity has been dismissed in time of eco- 
nomic recession because standards were not adjusted to reflect the pos- 

These effects need not result from conditions existing throughout the 
local or national economy, however. Individual competitors may break 
through and take away sizable segments of a market with equally detri- 

200 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

mental consequences for those immediately affected. A new and superior 
product or advertising campaign, a sharp reduction in prices, some par- 
ticularly effective salesmanship — any of these may give a competing firm 
a major advantage, even if only temporarily. The salesman who suffers 
heavy losses in business under such circumstances may respond with 
emotional and motivational changes which have serious consequences 
for his performance in the future. Just as in wartime actions of the enemy 
contribute to emotional and motivational states which preclude effective 
performance levels, so in a capitaUstic society competing companies may 
disable members of the opposition. The casualty rate is not likely to be 
as high, and the incidence of strictly physical disabilities (and deaths) 
can be presumed to be minimal, yet there is no question but that eco- 
nomic as well as military conflicts can take a heavy toll among the con- 

Insofar as actions taken by the various governments, either Federal, 
state, or local, intrude upon the economic arena, these too may become 
strategic for failure. So also may union activities initiated above the imme- 
diate shop level. The impact is again likely to be particularly marked at 
the top of the organization, but interested specialists such as company 
lawyers, tax men, and labor relations experts may also be affected. The 
fact that union negotiations break down and a strike results, or that an 
antitrust action is successfully prosecuted against the company, can have 
important implications for the future performance of those intimately 
involved. Failure to measure up to personal expectations at such times 
can have a severe emotional and motivational impact on some people, 
even if they have met the standards estabhshed by the company. 

In cases of this kind every effort should be made to bring the man's 
personal standards into Hne with actual ones. If he can be convinced that 
he has not failed, that the economic circumstances, or actions of a compet- 
itor, or governmental forces, or union decisions were beyond his control, 
a rapid improvement in performance can be expected. It may be, of 
course, that the man himself was partially responsible for the way events 
developed but still is overreacting with unfortunate consequences for 
his current work. This makes the job of reestablishing effective perform- 
ance more difficult. He must be helped to realize that irrespective of 
events in the past, his present competence is what counts. A small dose 
of success can do wonders if it can be provided. 

In more severe instances, the anxiety, shame, or depression produced 
by the sense of personal failure may be sufficient to constitute a true 
emotional disorder or to invoke other symptoms indicative of a neurosis 
or psychosis. At such times the solutions discussed in Chapter 3 are appro- 
priate. The reactions may be expected to assume such inflexibiUty that it 
would be almost impossible for a manager to reahgn the man's personal 

Situational Forces 201 

and actual standards. He will remain convinced of his inadequacy no 
matter what his superiors say or do. His overt behavior may, however, 
represent an attempt at denial, making it difficult to determine exactly 
what did provoke the disorder. 

It is also important, where economic forces have operated to produce 
failure, that the forces be removed quickly, if at all possible. A salesman 
who is overreacting to the impact of depressed conditions or aggressive 
competition ideally should be shifted to a territory where there is some 
possibility of success. At the same time an attempt should be made to 
counteract any feeling he may have that accepting the transfer represents 
an admission of defeat. Unfortunately, this kind of solution is not gener- 
ally available for top-level executives and stafiF specialists. For them there 
is, with rare exceptions, no appropriate "new territory" where a feeling of 
success and a revival of effective performance can occur. The chances of 
solving problems of failure short of dismissal or demotion are con- 
sequently reduced when such people are involved. 

Geographic Location of Work 

Many of the strategic factors involving geographic considerations are 
obvious. Climatic conditions, for instance, can be so severe as to have a 
physically detrimental effect on performance. Similarly, rough topography 
can have considerable significance in industries which are based on the 
extraction and development of natural resources. In these cases, however, 
where nearly all men could be expected to suffer some decrement in ef- 
fectiveness, standards are usually adjusted to take the situation into ac- 
count. A laborer is not generally expected to perform at the same level in 
the tropics as he would in a more temperate climate. 

Where emotional and physical reactions to these factors differ among 
individuals, however, true performance failure may occur. Some people 
become severely sick whenever they board a ship. Whether the basic 
causation is physical or emotional, they are incapable of effective work 
in any job requiring them to spend much time at sea. Similarly, some peo- 
ple develop severe and incapacitating sinus or bronchial conditions in 
cold, wet climates. Reactions of an essentially emotional nature can occur 
with extended exposure to extreme conditions, such as those existing in 
the arctic or in the equatorial jungles and deserts. Environments like these 
contribute to severe and lasting depressive states in some people, al- 
though others are left unscathed. In part, the emotional reactions ap- 
pear to be precipitated by the isolation which characterizes such regions. 
But without question the rigors of existence and the deprivations occa- 
sioned by climatic conditions can also be strategic. 

Under conditions of this kind it may be possible to treat the disorder 

202 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

and so restore effective performance. Medicine has been increasingly suc- 
cessful in developing drugs and other procedures which will permit in- 
dividuals to continue Hving in harsh environments. Should treatment 
prove inadequate, however, it is best to remove the person from the situa- 
tion as soon as possible. Many men who were unable to adjust to isolated 
assignments in extreme climates during wartime recovered rapidly when 
returned to the United States ( 38 ) . This solution is particularly appropri- 
ate where the situational reaction is primarily emotional. 

In discussing family ties as causes of performance failure. Chapter 6 
devoted considerable space to the matter of separation. Some people fail 
because they are assigned to jobs which remove them from emotionally 
important family ( and other group ) associations for long periods of time. 
Very similar reactions can also occur as a result of separation from a fa- 
miliar environment and exposure to a new situation. In such cases a thor- 
ough discussion with the man is usually required to determine whether it 
is the separation from his family which disturbs him or the novelty and 
strangeness of the environment in which he finds himself. Generally, with 
suflBcient patience it is not difficult to distinguish between the two. 

The problems associated with being in new and strange situations ap- 
pear most frequently after assignment to work in a foreign country. The 
shock of facing numbers of people whose customs seem unintelligible and 
with whom communication is difficult because of language barriers can 
be overwhelming. Satisfying the simplest personal wants becomes a com- 
plex problem — getting a meal, making arrangements to have laundry 
done, finding a toilet, etc. The strangeness of everything, the potential for 
getting into embarrassing situations, and the sense of being unwanted 
provide fertile ground for the development of emotional disorder. So too 
do the value conflicts inevitably aroused by the demands of an alien cul- 

Experience with U.S. government employees in overseas assignments 
indicates that emotional problems are most likely to develop in wives 
who have reached middle age and who have spent most of their lives in 
some stable American community. The men are relatively less vulner- 
able, probably because their work remains much the same even though 
the environment in which it is carried out has changed drastically. Al- 
coholism is a particularly common response to the stress of a strange coun- 
try and unfamihar situation. Various types of physical disorders of emo- 
tional origin can also be expected. Many of these make normal behavior 
of the kind required for effective work performance quite impossible for 
long periods of time. Although psychoses are not excessively prevalent, 
neuroses, especially those with anxiety and depression predominating, are. 
In most cases the symptoms appear for the first time during the period 

Situational Forces 203 

of foreign service; the individual has usually been emotionally and physi- 
cally healthy up to that point ( 193 ) . 

These reactions are not, of course, unique to the foreign situation. They 
can occur within the United States itself when a person is uprooted from 
a familiar environment. The move from a rural area to a large city is 
probably the most frequent source of difficulty, since the population flow 
from farm to urban factory continues. Rush-hour crowds, subways, 
traffic jams, and self-service elevators can be almost as disconcerting as a 
foreign culture. But even the move from a city in which one has grown 
up and become adjusted to another which presents a new problem of 
adaptation can cause emotional upset and performance failure in some 

In general, the solutions in cases of ineffectiveness caused by novel situ- 
ations parallel those noted in Chapter 6 for family separation. It is impor- 
tant to get the man out of the place and back to familiar ground as soon 
as possible. Ideally, screening would prevent or reduce such occurrences, 
both in the employee himself and in other family members. 

There is, however, another valuable solution available in the situation- 
ally caused cases, especially those involving foreign assignment. People 
can be prepared for the new situation so that when they are actually ex- 
posed, the shock is partially absorbed. Ideally, men sent on trips or per- 
manent assignments to places where they have never been should be 
given as much information about what to expect as can be provided. 
They should be told about the various situations they may face, and they 
should be given a chance to think about how they might react. Culture 
and language training should be provided before the move actually oc- 

In cases where companies send large numbers of employees into so- 
cieties very different from America, as the large oil companies do in the 
Near East and Venezuela, the benefits to be derived from special com- 
pany-sponsored training programs ought to be considerable. Attendance 
should be open to the members of the employee's family. Training should 
be conducted by area and language experts hired for this purpose, as well 
as by company employees who have worked in the unfamiliar country. 
Participants could be given an opportunity to play the roles that they will 
assume in their new environment. In this way they can explore and be- 
come familiar with their own reactions and emotions before actual ex- 
posure to the situation occurs. This procedure wdll almost certainly result 
in a sizable reduction in the number of men returned from foreign assign- 
ments as a result of performance failure. It should pay for itself and much 

204 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

The Physical Working Environment 

Such factors as noise, illumination, atmospheric conditions, and equip- 
ment characteristics, although they can affect performance acutely, tend 
to have a more or less uniform impact on everyone exposed to them. 
Where the workplace provides a detrimental environment, standards will 
generally be adjusted downward to fit the situational context, and there- 
fore ineffectiveness will not become prevalent. What variations in reaction 
do occur are more a consequence of individual characteristics than of 
situational aspects. Consequently, performance failure attributable to 
factors in the physical working environment can be expected only when 
an individual suffers in addition from some physical or other individual 
deficiency which makes him particularly sensitive to the effects of the 
deleterious working conditions, or in those relatively rare cases where the 
group as a whole is not exposed to the conditions in a uniform manner. 

In a few instances also, management may be unaware that factors in 
the physical working environment are contributing to performance dec- 
rements and so may fail to adjust standards accordingly. Thus, men can 
be considered ineffective when machines have been inappropriately de- 
signed or are operating improperly, if the locus of error is incorrectly as- 
sumed to be in the operators themselves. Similarly, a manager's failure to 
recognize the effects that noise, temperature, and other conditions have 
on performance can cause them to become strategic. It is important, there- 
fore, to discuss these factors here if only to sensitize managers to their 
consequences so that identification may be more easily accomplished. 

Excessive noise affects performance in two ways. It can serve to mask 
speech, making communication difficult and misunderstandings frequent. 
It can also interfere directly with the performance of tasks requiring con- 
centration. Mental work is affected primarily, but manual activities are 
not immune (187). Studies indicate that errors and the quality of work 
produced are influenced most. Noise has littie impact on quantity, and 
steps taken to make the workplace quieter are unlikely to bring about a 
higher rate of output ( 184 ) . Of course, another effect of noise if it is suf- 
ficiently intense is that damage to the ear can occur and permanently 
impair hearing. 

Where it is suspected that excessive noise is present in the workplace, 
an acoustical engineer should be consulted. The problems of measure- 
ment and control are complex and require specialized assistance. Noise 
reduction is ideally accomplished by elimination at the source through 
revised design of machinery or through lubrication, replacement of worn 
parts, and changes in mountings. Sometimes it is possible to isolate in- 
tense sounds by constructing barriers. The most common procedure is to 

Situational Forces 205 

employ acoustical materials as a means of absorbing sound and reducing 
vibration. Where none of these are possible or practicable, ear protection 
devices can be used (195 ) . 

Illumination levels are equally important for performance and, be- 
cause the conditions under which various individuals work can differ 
even within the same room, the potential contribution to ineffectiveness 
is somewhat greater than for noise. In a number of instances output rates 
before and after a major lighting change have been compared. In one case 
where the original lighting was very poor, a 35 percent improvement in 
the quantity of work produced was achieved (195). Normally the change 
with more adequate lighting is not as great, but productivity increases of 
3 to 15 percent, combined with sizable reductions in the number of errors 
and accidents, are not uncommon. Improvements in performance can 
also be expected when glare is removed or reduced to a minimum. 

Among the various atmospheric conditions, temperature has been the 
most extensively studied ( 187, 195 ) . In general, work decrements may 
be expected to occur in the vicinity of 90°. These will increase as tempera- 
tures rise above that level and as humidity increases. Complex physical 
tasks are affected most. Cold has similar consequences: At 32° a decre- 
ment of about 20 percent from the level of performance at room tem- 
perature can be expected. Below 0° the impact becomes pronounced. 
Other atmospheric factors which appear less frequently include oxygen 
lack at high altitudes, rapid reduction of barometric pressure such as may 
occur during work under water ( creating the "bends" ) , and noxious gases 
and vapors that become concentrated because of poor ventilation. 

In view of the advent of the space age, the effects of rapid acceleration 
should probably also be mentioned. Aircraft can be constructed with 
tolerances which far exceed those of the human operator. This means that 
a man can easily expose himself to acceleration stresses beyond his physi- 
ological limits. Sensory performance, especially vision, is affected quickly. 
Continued acceleration can produce "blackout" and death ( 195 ) . 

Another source of performance decrement and perhaps failure is as- 
sociated with the amount of information coming to a person from his en- 
vironment. It is possible to overload a man, to expect too much of him. 
This is not intended in an emotional sense, but rather refers to limitations 
on the human capacity to take in information through the senses. We can 
make correct judgments regarding only a certain number of different 
things at once. After a point the error rate climbs rapidly. Imagine, for 
instance, trying to listen to and participate in five separate telephone con- 
versations at one time. There are similar limits on the span of immediate 
memory. The human capacity to bring previously achieved knowledge 
to bear on a current problem is not infinite ( 196 ) . Thus, the situation can 
make demands which inevitably result in poor-quality performance. Fail- 

206 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ures for reasons such as these are presumably rare in the business world, 
because it is usually possible to delay environmental demands and sched- 
ule them so that they do not all have to be handled at once. Over- 
loading can occur, however, in new and unstandardized situations which 
require simultaneous attention to many details. With the increasing use 
of automated systems of production, such problems may be expected to 
arise with greater frequency. 

Closely related is the matter of equipment design and maintenance. 
A machine can demand more of the operator's strength, muscular speed, 
coordination and dexterity, perceptual speed, visual competence, or audi- 
tory capacities than he can possibly provide. Similarly, the design may 
be incompatible with the size and proportions of a specific individual. 
Human engineering aims at achieving optimal conditions in terms of 
adapting equipment to the operator. Where such design and operating 
conditions are not achieved, and managerial standards are not adjusted, 
failure becomes a possibility. 

An example of the way in which equipment characteristics may in- 
fluence performance levels is provided by a study of various instrument 
dial scales (189). In this instance horizontal, vertical, and circular scales 
were compared in terms of the frequency with which erroneous readings 
occurred. The vertical scale yielded by far the most mistakes. Also, ex- 
treme errors were more marked on the vertical scale; on the other two 
they were negligible. On all scales errors were most frequent toward the 
ends and least frequent in the central range. Nevertheless, in spite of the 
differences found in association with design characteristics, the major 
source of variability was still the human being. Individual error rates in- 
dependent of scale differences varied from 3 to 70 percent of the readings 
made. Thus individual characteristics appear to remain crucial, even 
though situational forces are relevant. 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to offer the reader any developed 
theory in this area. A great many studies have been conducted which bear 
upon engineering problems, but general principles are still few in num- 
ber (198). The manager who suspects that factors of this type are con- 
tributing to performance failures among his subordinates should consult 
the various books which describe these studies ( 187, 195 ) . To attempt to 
review them adequately here would require space out of proportion to 
the significance of equipment characteristics in ineffective performance. 

One other way in which equipment-related factors can contribute to 
failure should be noted, however. In connection with some research into 
employee reactions in an automated power plant and in a comparable 
plant with conventional equipment, it was found that increased feelings 
of tension and nervousness were associated with the automation (194). 
Whereas 51 percent of the men in the old plant reported feeling "jumpy" 

Situational Forces 207 

at least occasionally, 74 percent in the new plant felt this way. Starting up 
or shutting down the automated equipment made 82 percent feel tense, 
compared with 52 percent for the conventional machinery. In some in- 
stances the responses were indicative of sufficient anxiety to suggest that 
performance may have been severely aflFected. Such extreme cases were 
found in both plants, but they were more frequent in the automated one. 
This occurred in spite of the fact that the new plant had been staffed with 
specially selected employees who had volunteered for the work. The 
mere presence of very complex electronic and mechanical systems, which 
offer a potential threat of shaking off their subservience to the human 
operator, can provoke sufficient anxiety to make some people ineffective. 
This is particularly likely where the worker's training has been insuffi- 
cient to produce a feeling of confidence in his ability to maintain control 
over the machinery. 

Danger and the Accident Prone 

In the study summarized above dealing with reactions to automation, 
the men appeared to be responding emotionally to the danger they per- 
ceived in their environments. Such feelings can, of course, be provoked 
in a great many situations where there is a possibility of injury or where 
an accident if it does occur is almost certain to have serious consequences. 
Many examples might be cited — work on high buildings and other struc- 
tures during construction, work in the presence of explosives or radio- 
active materials, certain types of mining activities, tests of new and un- 
tried equipment, military service in combat. Some people are apparently 
almost immune to anxiety in these situations, but other people who 
have been sensitized to them as a result of prior experiences can have ex- 
treme emotional reactions. Strategic situational and emotional factors can 
thus combine to impair performance to the point where the man is totally 
ineffective in the dangerous situation. Continued exposure may result in 
an emotional disorder and incapacitate him for effective performance of 
any kind. 

But the impact of danger on performance is not always mediated by 
emotion. The danger can also be translated directly into an injury which 
is severe enough to require continued absence from work. An occasional 
accident need not, of course, mean that the man is ineffective, but where 
there are repeated instances or where severe injury results in extended 
treatment or a permanent handicap, the disruption of performance can 
be sizable. Either absenteeism is excessive, or the man becomes physically 
incapable of meeting quality and quantity standards. 

There is reason to believe that injuries of this kind are most likely to 
occur during the first few months on a new job when the man has not yet 

208 The Management of Ineffective Verformance 

learned how to protect himself against the dangers in his new environ- 
ment (200). Furthermore, the higher accident rates are found quite fre- 
quently among people who also lose more time from work for other 
reasons (191). In part this would seem to indicate a resort, presumably 
unconscious, to accidents as a means of escaping intolerable emotions 
aroused in the work situation. Such a reaction is not unlike that which 
occurs in connection with the development of some physical symptoms 
of emotional origin. In other instances underlying physical or emotional 
disorders may necessitate frequent absenteeism, while also providing a 
major source of distraction and thus contributing to accidental injury. 
Or, as will be seen, it may be the irresponsibility present in many such 
people which contributes both to the injuries and to absenteeism for other 

This finding of an association between accidents and time lost for other 
reasons has important implications when combined with the fact that 
industrial accidents are particularly likely to occur between the ages of 
seventeen and twenty-eight and to decline to a minimum in the late fifties 
and sixties ( 197 ) . Such evidence suggests that injuries are not merely a 
function of the amount of danger inherent in the work environment and 
the level of developed skill. Although training deficiencies coupled with 
the fact that the younger people are more likely to be new on the job 
might account for part of the age rise, this cannot be the whole story. The 
increase in number of accidents is far too great. Also, skill rates are lowest 
in the very youngest age groups, but injury rates do not reach a peak until 
twenty-one or twenty-two. There appears, therefore, to be something 
about specific individuals which causes them to be more susceptible, at 
least during a certain period of their lives. Studies of the emotional pat- 
terns and motives of people who have recently had an excessive number 
of accidents tend to support this conclusion. Some employees apparently 
develop a type of accident proneness which is attributable to their in- 
dividual characteristics, although, of course, some contribution to each 
injury is also made by the danger intrinsic to the situation. 

In one case two groups, one with a high incidence of industrial injuries 
over a two-year period and the other completely injury-free, were com- 
pared by means of a projective measure of certain personality charac- 
teristics (185). The accident prone were found to have rather negative 
attitudes toward their superiors, their jobs, and toward work in general. 
In addition, they were relatively lacking in optimism, trust in others, and 
positive feelings toward the people around them. 

Similar but more comprehensive results were obtained from another 
study in which projective tests were given to fifty-four people with very 
high accident rates (192). Again there was a lack of warm emotional re- 
lationships with others. Although most of the accident prone had a wide 

Situational Forces 209 

circle of acquaintances and were considered good conversationalists, 
they did not really get close to people in an emotional sense. They were 
frequently concerned about their health and physical condition, yet actual 
illnesses were rare. Also, many wanted very much to achieve a higher 
social status, although usually they had not been successful in doing this. 
There was an excessive resort to the use of denial as a defense against dis- 
turbing emotion. As a result, many made bad mistakes in perceiving as- 
pects of their environments. People in positions of authority, especially 
their superiors at work, seemed to arouse their hatred consistently, often 
for no real reason. Planning for the future was poor and erratic. The ac- 
cident prone appear to be living in the present and to be a rather impul- 
sive group. The latter conclusion agrees with the findings of another study 
in which it was demonstrated that the operators in the metalworking 
department of a certain factory who had more numerous and more severe 
injuries also tended to act with a degree of muscular speed which 
exceeded their visual ability to size up a situation (186). Action was 
quicker than perception and thought. 

These studies, and others which might have been mentioned ( 94, 199 ) , 
present a consistent picture. In a general sense the accident prone appear 
to be emotionally immature and somewhat socially irresponsible. Yet it 
is clear that people meeting this description are not necessarily emo- 
tionally ill and that there are many such individuals who are not even 
accident prone. To this must be added the fact that the tendency to have 
repeated accidents is rarely a fixed characteristic of an individual. High 
rates are usually not maintained over more than a few years ( 197 ) , and 
sometimes the periods are much shorter. Repeated accidents must in most 
cases be considered indicative of transient maladjustments, which are 
particularly likely to manifest themselves prior to the age of thirty. 

The most likely conceptualization seems to be that under stress, peo- 
ple with the appropriate personality patterns experience relatively brief 
shifts in their motivational hierarchies which result in a series of accidents. 
Usually the original dominance relationships reestablish themselves 
within a few years or perhaps much sooner, although in a very small 
number of cases the person remains accident prone throughout much 
of his life. The motivating forces responsible for accidents would seem 
to be a wish to impress others through quick, risky decisions and actions 
(impulsiveness) as well as an intense hatred of people in authority, a 
hatred which leads to a generalized defiance of all rules and regulations, 
including those in the safety area. The result of these motives might be 
expected to be very frequent exposure to dangerous situations and inevi- 
tably some accidents. 

On occasion the aggression toward superiors may generate strong feel- 
ings of guilt, coupled with a wish, conscious or unconscious, to escape this 

210 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

unpleasant emotional experience through behavior which actually repre- 
sents a punishment. Here there may be a sufficiently strong need for in- 
jury so that the accidents are not merely chance happenings in a person- 
ally caused context of excessive risk, but specifically contrived events. 
Sometimes a desire to escape other distressing emotions aroused at work 
may also serve as a direct stimulus to injury. 

Counterbalancing these forces is the normal fear elicited by danger, 
and the threat of injury with its concomitant negative motivation. Self- 
preservation is a strong motive, and in most cases it remains dominant. 
When it does not, the forces contributing to accident proneness break 
through and determine behavior. Repeated and sometimes severe injuries, 
occasionally even death, result. Unfortunately the factors responsible for 
producing this shift in the dominance relationships between motives have 
not yet been identified. 

What does a knowledge of the relationships between dangerous situ- 
ations and performance offer by way of guidance for the manager who 
wishes to minimize ineffectiveness among his subordinates? It should be 
made clear at the outset that the preventive techniques currently avail- 
able have unquestionably been of great value. Accident rates in the 
larger companies have dropped sharply during the past twenty-five years, 
to the point where the major factor contributing to lost time now is not 
injury on the job, but injury at home. Progress in smaller industry has been 
less spectacular, but it has occurred ( 197 ) . 

These changes have been achieved through a variety of procedures. 
Among them are poster campaigns, safety discussions and committees, 
formal competitions for low injury rates between groups, studies of jobs 
and analyses of accident reports to locate trouble spots, safety policies 
and regulations, special training in accident prevention for new employ- 
ees, placement of those witli physical defects and handicaps in safe oc- 
cupations, and the design of equipment to maximize safety of operation. 
All these procedures can help in dealing with problems of ineffectiveness 
caused by the danger inherent in the work situation. 

Unfortunately, many of these techniques achieve their results by mak- 
ing employees constantly aware of safety problems and of the presence 
of danger. This has without question been a major factor in reducing in- 
dustrial accidents, but it may also be presumed to have raised the anxiety 
levels of many who are particularly sensitive to dangerous situations. 
Thus, a number of the methods currently used to reduce injuries act at 
the same time to contribute to performance failures in people who are so 
distracted by anxiety that their work is affected. 

Since design of the workplace, and of any equipment used in it, is one 
major procedure which does not rely on the consciousness of danger to 
achieve its results, this particular approach to prevention would seem to 

Situational Forces 211 

be especially desirable. Actually, safety devices and other engineering 
solutions are not only of value in reducing injuries. They also give many 
people a feeling of confidence and security. As a result a sizable diminu- 
tion of anxiety may occur among those who must work under poten- 
tially dangerous conditions. The rifle in combat, for instance, is not only 
an offensive weapon and a means to carrying out job duties, but also a 
source of security which provides a feeling of confidence and a belief that 
self-preservation is possible. 

Although an extended treatment of equipment design in relation to 
safety is not warranted here, brief mention should be made of several 
important points (188). Readers who would like more detailed informa- 
tion should consult a book such as Industrial Accident Prevention ( 190 ) , 
which deals specifically with techniques in the safety engineering area. 
Perhaps the most important thing to emphasize is that the design should, 
insofar as possible, introduce barriers which make it difficult for the in- 
dividual to get into trouble. Safety devices and protective clothing should 
be developed which will prevent a person from placing himself in a dan- 
gerous situation. Controls should be designed and placed to minimize the 
chances of error. Devices which will provide reliable information regard- 
ing malfunctioning and the presence of danger should be employed. In 
addition, every effort should be made to furnish methods of eliminating 
any trouble that does arise. Controls and releases should be readily avail- 
able and should be designed to use to the maximum the individual capa- 
bilities of the employee. 

Where an individual has had several accidents which are sufficient to 
constitute a real managerial problem, and where he appears to exhibit 
the motivational and emotional patterns characteristic of accident- 
prone people, there are several other possible courses. As previously 
noted, such people tend to correct their own problems eventually, but 
often not until they have suffered considerable disruption of perform- 
ance, contributed to major equipment losses, left the company precipi- 
tously, or received considerable sums in disability payments. Therefore, 
managerial intervention does seem to be called for when accident prone- 
ness is suspected, if only to prevent matters from getting worse. Action 
should be taken to reduce the danger inherent in the work situation so 
that tendencies to show off and take risks, as well as more directly pur- 
posive behaviors, have a minimal opportunity to produce an actual acci- 
dent. If the man is working in a really dangerous job, he should be trans- 
ferred. Such people will find risky situations, if they possibly can, on their 
own; management should do nothing to help them in this quest. 

Another point represents a greater challenge to supervision. It is known 
that hatred of people in authority, together with their rules and regula- 
tions, is closely connected with accident causation. When an accident- 

212 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

prone person is forced into frequent close contact with his superiors, he is 
most likely to injure himself. Considering this, it would appear advisable 
for a manger to let a subordinate who has recendy had several accidents 
go his own way insofar as possible. Certainly close supervision and 
constant checking are not to be recommended. The manager should try 
to keep the employee's resentment at a minimum and to eliminate any 
sources of conflict with authority. Of course, there are limitations on the 
extent to which such kid-glove procedures can be followed, but if contact 
between boss and accident-prone subordinate can be kept to a minimum, 
both may reap sizable rewards. 

Subjective Danger Situations 

In Chapter 3 it was noted that various aspects of the individual and his 
environment coalesce to produce emotional symptoms. Among the fac- 
tors mentioned were the number of situations which unite with the per- 
son's sensitivities to produce disturbing emotions, the frequency and dura- 
tion of his exposure to these situations, the intensity of the emotion 
aroused, and his capacity to withstand unpleasant experiences. Although 
the sensitivities and emotions involved exist in the individual, it is some 
characteristic of the environment which sets oflF the symptom. Further- 
more, in a great many cases the individual reacts as if the situation were 
truly dangerous. Frequently he experiences fear or utilizes defenses to 
escape the fear. In contrast to the actual danger situations discussed in 
the preceding section, however, the man's interpretation is derived almost 
entirely from subjective factors. There is little real chance of injury or 

There are a number of situations and situational aspects which can 
provoke reactions of this kind: open streets, being alone, high buildings, 
narrow spaces, arguments and fights, animals such as cats or mice, knives 
and scissors, speaking before a group, seeing cripples or accidents, crowds, 
examinations and tests, toilets, boats, noisy places, airplanes, darkness, 
riding on buses or trains, receiving orders or criticism, physical examina- 
tions and shots, social affairs, talking to the boss, talking on the telephone, 
disorder and confusion, separation from loved ones, being in a position 
of authority, a new and unfamiliar environment. These are typical, but 
there are others. Each individual has his own relatively unique pattern of 

The motivational and emotional processes involved in the reactions 
are complex. Somehow, as a consequence of previous learning, these sub- 
jective danger situations achieve the capacity to initiate strong impulses 
and feelings of either an aggressive or sexual nature. These reactions have 
become attached to the situation and are triggered by it. But they are also 

Situational Forces 213 

of a kind which the individual has learned to consider bad and certainly 
inappropriate to the situations in which they are aroused. In fact, from 
his point of view, and probably from the viewpoint of society as a whole, 
the impulses and desires are so reprehensible that to attribute them to 
oneself would be almost inconceivable. They are therefore repressed from 
consciousness and not even experienced as such. Sometimes, as when 
there are physical symptoms of emotional origin, the actual experience of 
unpleasant emotions such as shame, fear, or guilt is avoided. The situa- 
tion provokes a headache or a period of vomiting, and that is all. Some- 
times, however, fear does break through, and the man feels scared every 
time he faces a certain type of situation. The impulse is aroused, is re- 
pressed because it is considered bad, and is replaced by anxiety. Severe 
physical punishment for harboring such thoughts is felt to be deserved, 
and the expectation of punishment serves as a stimulus to fear. Thus in a 
sense it is the unconscious motive which is feared, not the situation, al- 
though environmental factors set off the process and are consciously ex- 
perienced as causes. 

Reactions in subjective danger situations are similar to those where real 
danger is present. There are essentially four possibilities. The man may 
experience intense fear, but because of more dominant motives he may 
remain in the situation and continue to expose himself to it whenever he 
has to. There are many public speakers who have continued to address 
large groups for years while remaining on the verge of panic. In the same 
way, it is not unusual for a salesman to experience anxiety every time he 
approaches a customer and yet to continue in this type of work through- 
out his life. Performance may well be seriously affected in such cases, but 
the man continues to face his emotion. 

On the other hand, a person may attempt to escape that which he fears 
by resorting to defenses and symptoms of the kinds described in Chapters 
3 and 5. He may experience physical symptoms which are basically emo- 
tional in nature, or may constantly behave in a way which is symptomatic 
of emotional disorder, or may resort to pathological perceptions and be- 
liefs. All of these are likely to interfere with the effectiveness of his work, 
either by reducing his efficiency or by making it necessary for the man- 
ager to remove him from the situation. 

A third alternative can occur only after the man has come to recognize 
the sources of his anxiety. Having learned from past experience that cer- 
tain situations are emotionally disturbing, he may well attempt to avoid 
exposing himself to experiences of this kind. The result can be an outright 
refusal to work in some environments and under certain conditions. On 
the other hand, various excuses may be developed in an effort to provide 
a socially acceptable reason for the avoidance. Some of these can be very 
ingenious, others quite far-fetched. On occasion, people caught between 

214 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

their fears and the demands of supervision become very emotional. A 
young woman may break out crying when told to work in a small and 
stuffy room alone. A man may become belligerent when informed that he 
must take a physical examination. 

Finally, and this is considerably rarer, the man may enter the situation 
only to be overcome with terror. In spite of the absence of real danger, 
he may bolt from the room much as a person might attempt to escape 
from a burning house. Sometimes there will be a few muttered excuses 
on the way out. At other times words will not come, and the departure 
remains completely unexplained. 

It is important to reemphasize that these reactions to danger situations, 
whether actual or subjective, are not unusual or entirely in the realm of 
the abnormal. Many people have experiences of this kind at one time or 
another. They become relevant from a managerial viewpoint only when 
performance is seriously affected. On occasion, fears such as these do 
spread. The conditions under which anxiety is set off increase as the in- 
dividual thinks of similarities between existing sources of distress and 
other situations which have in the past been relatively anxiety-free. This, 
however, is probably the exception. Most people remain sensitive to a 
group of situations which they have dreaded for years, which they gen- 
erally try to avoid, and which provoke fear and emotional symptoms 
when exposure does occur. Yet the number of situations remains essen- 
tially the same. Or occasionally people even learn to enjoy circumstances 
which have previously been a source of distress. 

The management and treatment of these problems was discussed at 
length in Chapter 3. One additional point should be made, however. It 
is crucial, whether the reaction involves an actual danger situation or is 
purely subjective, to identify the specific cause. What is it in the environ- 
ment that provokes the fear reaction? Only with this knowledge can 
changes be made which will restore an adequate performance level. Once 
the strategic situation has been spotted, appropriate changes in work 
requirements can be instituted or, if this is impossible, a transfer to a job 
which is less likely to arouse negative emotions can be carried out. Pro- 
cedures of this kind are unlikely to achieve the desired results when spe- 
cific knowledge of situational causes is lacking. 



Throughout these discussions frequent reference has been 
made to ways in which people holding managerial positions may them- 
selves become ineffective. Chapter 7 in particular contained an extended 
treatment of this problem. Since management is judged largely in terms 
of its impact on the work of others, the analysis presented there of the 
ways in which managerial actions may contribute to the performance 
failures of subordinates is particularly relevant. Yet actually, any strate- 
gic factor may be instrumental for managerial ineffectiveness. Intellectual, 
emotional, motivational, physical, family, work-group, company, societal, 
and situational determinants may operate at the higher levels of the or- 
ganization just as they do among those in positions of a less responsible 
nature. This will be evident in the case histories of Chapter 12. 

There is, however, one major source of difficulty in managerial work 
which has not yet been covered in adequate detail. Under certain cir- 
cumstances managerial jobs can come to represent subjective danger situ- 
ations for those who hold them. This can in turn result in major perform- 
ance decrements or perhaps complete failure. Such reactions occur often 
enough so that they must be considered a primary cause of managerial 
ineffectiveness. The pages which follow will take up the causes and con- 
sequences of these situational reactions in considerable detail. 

Although in one sense so much emphasis on a particular type of stra- 
tegic factor might not seem warranted, there are several justifications. The 
processes involved are complex and not easily understood, and if they 
are to be covered at all, they must be given extended treatment. More- 
over, the topic is an important one insofar as managerial ineffectiveness is 
concerned. Among first line supervisors, subjective danger responses of 
this kind are probably the major cause of failure. Above the level of the 


216 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

initial managerial job the incidence appears to be somewhat less, but it is 
still high. As a major contributor to reduced efficiency in the management 
of a company, fear reactions provoked by the managerial situation are 
likely to have considerable bearing on the attainment of organizational 

The Managerial Job as a Subjective Danger Situation 

There are several unique motivational and emotional requirements of 
managerial work which are intimately associated with the perception of 
danger ( 79 ) . Let us take up these requirements briefly before considering 
how they may serve to arouse fear. Most obvious is the fact that the man- 
ager must accept and perhaps even enjoy holding a position which 
yields power over other people. He is required by the nature of his work 
to use sanctions, both positive and negative, to control certain aspects of 
his subordinates' behavior. The man who cannot bring himself to in- 
fluence others in such a way as to make them act in accordance with his 
wishes will have difficulty in any kind of supervisory work. Probably 
more than a mere willingness in this respect is needed. An actual enjoy- 
ment of the manipulation of power may well be desirable, although this 
should ideally be coupled with a capacity to keep the pleasure from be- 
coming too evident. In any event subordinates must be induced to per- 
form in a manner conducive to the attainment of organizational objec- 

Closely related is the requirement that the man in charge of a group 
must accept, and perhaps enjoy holding, a unique and highly visible po- 
sition. The managerial job requires a person to stand out from the group 
and assume independent responsibility for behavior which must at 
times differ markedly from that of others in the same environment. The 
job forces an incumbent to behave in ways that his men do not, and 
for this reason he cannot look to those around him for guides to his con- 
duct. He must be capable of acting entirely on his own initiative. Further- 
more, a manager is inevitably a highly visible person. Because he has a 
potentially important role in satisfying the motives of his subordinates, 
he is continually watched and discussed. Thus, the managerial job re- 
quires not only a willingness to differ, but also an ability to accept a posi- 
tion at the center of attention without becoming disturbed. In one sense 
managerial work makes demands similar to those made of an actor. A 
manager is almost constantly on stage. He is required to play a part and 
to do so without permitting stage fright to cause him to forget his lines. 
Probably, to attain the necessary motivation, it is desirable that he actu- 
ally obtain pleasure from this kind of activity. 

To these job demands must be added the mere necessity of getting the 

Special Problems in Managerial Ineffectiveness 217 

work out and keeping things moving. These routine fimctions vary in dif- 
ferent positions, and many of them are not unique to management. They 
range from working up budget estimates and turning in employee rat- 
ing forms to participation in committee activities and talking on the tele- 
phone. Administrative demands of this kind are constantly present and if 
given a chance, will accumulate to the point where the backlog becomes 
overwhelming. Thus, a manager must be willing to devote himself to rou- 
tine matters, even if he does not particularly enjoy this type of work. Prob- 
ably it is easier to complete the tasks on schedule if some degree of posi- 
tive emotion is experienced during the process. Certainly a manager can- 
not aflFord to consistently avoid more than a few of the myriad duties 
which he is required to perform as a regular part of his job. 

The nature of the relationship between a manager and his superiors is 
important in a number of respects. For one thing, effective supervision 
within an organizational context requires a capacity to represent the 
group up the line and to obtain support at higher levels. In order to ac- 
complish this a manager must be on relatively good terms with his boss. 
Ideally, the relationship would be quite close. If a man really likes and 
admires his superior, it will be easier to work with him on mutual prob- 
lems. Naturally, a generalized hatred of people in positions of authority 
will almost certainly impair a manager's capacity to obtain support and 
approval up the Hne. Perhaps even more important, the manager who 
himself detests those above him is very Hkely to assume that the same 
feelings exist among his subordinates, that they hate him as much as he 
hates his own superiors. Thus, relationships downward as well as upward 
will suffer. And the manager will fail to take the steps necessary to obtain 
the assistance of his men, since he will assume in advance that they are 
out to thwart him. 

Managerial work also contains a strong competitive element, which 
has important implications for performance. Although striving of this 
kind might not be required if the job existed in an organizational vacuum, 
it becomes crucial within the framework of a specific company. Individ- 
ual managers do compete for scarce rewards, including promotions. The 
man who is unwilHng to engage in rivalry does not maintain the status 
quo; he gradually loses out to those who participate in the struggle. This 
means that a manager must accept, and more probably, seek out competi- 
tive situations. He must try to make his group the best around and be 
willing to accept the challenge whenever another manager, or even a sub- 
ordinate, questions his authority and position. Any manager who is un- 
wilHng to fight and try to win in this manner may well have the experience 
of seeing his group disappear from the organization chart or become sub- 
ordinated to some other activity. Especially at the top levels, a real love 
of competition would seem to be almost essential. 

218 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Much of what has been described has become closely identified with 
what our society considers the male role. In fact, managing a group of 
subordinates is in some ways similar to being the father of a large family, 
although the analogy should not be carried too far. A father is expected 
to take charge, to make important decisions, to discipline, and to take 
steps to protect his family in ways which are in many respects compa- 
rable to those required of management. Partly because of this parallel, 
the behavior required to fulfill job requirements has come to be viewed 
as inherently masculine. It is generally acknowledged that there are few 
better ways for an individual to prove his masculinity. Accordingly, a 
person who prefers not to assume this role, who becomes rather upset at 
the prospect of manifesting typically masculine behavior, might be ex- 
pected to have difiiculty as a manager. The job as currently conceived 
tends to require someone who enjoys performing in a manner consistent 
with our culturally defined prototype of masculinity. 

Unfortunately, however, many of these job requirements are almost 
inextricably interwoven with behaviors and thoughts which are widely 
considered undesirable. Thus, the nature of managerial work can serve 
as a stimulus to emotional reactions and motives which are socially con- 
demned. Some people will experience anxiety, shame, or guilt in response 
to one set of requirements, and some people to other requirements. The 
important point is that exercising personal power, standing out from the 
group, performing routine duties, having a generally favorable attitude 
toward one's superiors, competing with others, or assuming the mascu- 
line role can, under certain circumstances, be considered bad. As a result, 
a manager may unconsciously expect severe punishment for almost any- 
thing he does. The work environment becomes for him a subjective dan- 
ger situation and thus a constant source of severely unpleasant emotional 
experience. How can this happen? Let us consider the negative inter- 
pretations that may be placed on the six requirements of managerial work. 

The power requirement can, of course, easily be viewed in a negative 
sense. To derive satisfaction from manipulating others to achieve one's 
own ends is widely considered Machiavellian and undemocratic. Yet 
it is not unusual for a person to derive pleasure from being in a position 
of power — to look forward to making others behave in accordance with 
his wishes. Feelings such as this probably occur at one time or another 
in practically all of us. In the writer's experience they are particularly 
prevalent among managers of outstanding competence. Nevertheless, it is 
also clear that the manager who experiences a sense of omnipotence and 
superiority while carrying out his duties may come to condemn himself 
for these feelings. There is ample evidence that when this happens he is 
likely to attempt to avoid his feelings and desires by repressing them, 
relegating them to the level of the unconscious. An expectation of punish- 

Special Problems in Managerial Ineffectiveness 219 

ment and physical injury often remains, however. And intense fear may 
well result. 

The uniqueness and high visibility of the managerial job carries with 
it additional risks. Being the center of attention can stimulate a wish to 
"show oflF" which might result in boasting and excessive egotism. Assum- 
ing a role which is in certain crucial respects different may imply a nega- 
tive evaluation of others, an "all of you are wrong and I'm right" attitude, 
that is not only clearly aggressive, but also rather superior. The fact that 
a manager is often required to play a part, much as an actor does on stage, 
can carry with it a certain implication of "phoniness" and superficiality. 
Information obtained in the course of psychotherapy indicates that there 
is also something about the constant visibility of the manager which may 
tempt him to go beyond showing off to behavior of a more clearly sexual 
nature. Apparently some managers, on occasion, experience a desire to 
exhibit themselves while carrying out job duties. People who are prone 
to exhibitionistic wishes are particularly likely to have such desires in 
situations of the kind managers frequently face. All of these impulses 
and thoughts can be expected to remain unconscious, if they have become 
associated with a previously learned anticipation of punishment. At such 
times, however, the anxiety often continues to force its way into conscious- 

On the surface, routine administrative duties would appear to be rela- 
tively free of such implications. However, this need not be the case. Cer- 
tain activities of this kind may arouse strong impulses which in turn 
contribute to subjective danger reactions. For instance, the process of con- 
structing a budget estimate may provoke a temptation to resort to dis- 
honesty. For some the document is merely a budget estimate; for others 
it becomes an invitation to cheat and lie. It can also reactivate a long- 
standing desire to put something over on the company, to prove that 
higher management is as stupid and gullible as any lower-level supervisor. 
To take anotiier example, filling out an employee rating form is no more 
free of potential danger than constructing a budget estimate. A degree of 
vindictiveness may be aroused which the manager never suspected in him- 
self. Quite unexpectedly he may experience an intense desire to make the 
man being evaluated suffer "the way I have." Should repression take over, 
none of these wishes will become conscious, but the fear may very well 
remain. While testing and interviewing ineffective managers the writer 
has seen many instances where reactions of this kind were clearly strategic. 
Similar processes apparently can be activated by almost any of the rou- 
tine administrative requirements of managerial work. 

The need for a relatively close relationship with one's superior intro- 
duces the possibility of a different type of problem. If positive feelings 
of this kind are openly displayed, they may elicit many comments of a 

220 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

far from complimentary nature. The man who talks too freely about his 
admiration and affection for his boss runs the risk of being considered 
somewhat peculiar. So, too, does the man who constantly praises his su- 
perior's ideas, laughs at all his jokes, and spends as much time as possible 
in his presence. The vernacular contains many vividly descriptive terms 
which are often applied to such behavior. All of these carry homosexual 

Although some managers may consider such behavior on their part as 
no more than a means to an end, evidence obtained in connection with 
psychotherapy reveals that others may view it as indicative of feehngs 
which are not normal. Such people can come to the conclusion that their 
emotional attachments are unnaturally close and begin to worry about 
themselves. Since anything that even suggests homosexuahty is almost 
universally condemned in our society, it is not surprising that the motives 
aroused often do not become conscious at all. Yet the actual experience 
can well be one which borders on panic. The prospect of being branded 
a homosexual can provoke real terror in certain people, and this terror 
can be felt even when they have no real idea what they fear. All that 
reaches consciousness is an overpowering anxiety which appears to have 
no obvious cause. 

While competition and fighting to protect one's position and group are 
generally, although not universally, considered good, the emotions 
aroused in connection with this process can lead to behavior which is 
viewed very differently. Competing within the rules is one thing; cut- 
throat competition quite another. A man can want to win too much, be- 
come too aggressive, and come to hate his adversaries more than 
he should. He may be tempted to engage in practices which are 
considered bad and deserving of punishment. For some people even the 
thought of resorting to "dirty" tactics and going all out to win no matter 
what is very disturbing. They do not consider themselves to be capable 
of such behavior and will not permit such thoughts to become conscious. 
Yet the writer has seen cases where such a person has become extremely 
anxious while walking down a steep flight of stairs behind another man- 
ager who is viewed as a competitor. Making the impulse unconscious 
does not seem to eliminate it entirely; the fear remains. 

Intensely aggressive wishes of this kind can contribute to particularly 
severe anxiety when a manager sees his boss as the adversary. Experience 
obtained during the conduct of psychotherapy indicates that the desire 
to take away a superior's job, to steal what he has, can be one of the major 
sources of emotional disturbance. Under such conditions competitive 
wishes are particularly likely to carry with them an assumption that ex- 
treme retaliatory measures will be applied. Fighting with another person 

Special Problems in Managerial Ineffectiveness 221 

on one's own level is one thing; fighting with a man who has all the power 
on his side is quite another. Subjective danger situations which are pro- 
voked by impulses of this kind can be extremely terrifying for individuals 
who are specifically sensitized to them. 

Even the masculinity inherent in managerial work can be converted 
into a potential source of danger. The desire to prove and demonstrate 
one's maleness can be carried to what, in the employment situation, might 
well be considered an extreme. As a result some people appear to experi- 
ence sexual excitement almost continually on the job. Since such a reac- 
tion is likely to be considered inappropriate, a potentiality for anxiety and 
repression is clearly present. It is not at all uncommon in our society for 
a man to react to sexual stimulation as if it were bad, and thus to establish 
the conditions which characteristically convert a situation into one of 
subjective danger. 

In all these cases wishes and impulses, together with personal interpre- 
tations of wishes and impulses, lead to fear only when they have become 
associated with punishment and injury in the mind of the individual. 
It is then that they are converted into unconscious motives in an attempt 
to blot out the sources of distress. As a result, all that is usually experi- 
enced in a strange and unaccountable fear of being found out, caught, 
punished, or rejected by others; a fear which appears to be aroused only 
when managerial responsibilities must be carried out. Actually, the diffi- 
culty can be traced back in most cases to the learning of cultural values 
regarding such things as the improper exercise of power, acting superior, 
showing off, superficiaHty, exhibitionism, taking unfair advantage of 
others, cheating and lying, vindictiveness, homosexuality, unsportsman- 
like behavior, attacking those who cannot defend themselves, disrespect 
toward those in authority, and inappropriate sexual behavior. 

It is probably worth pointing out that impulses and desires of the kind 
described are in no sense unique to individuals who react with fear when 
given managerial responsibilities. Motives which are culturally con- 
demned occur in all of us. In fact, they are amazingly widespread among 
people who do not permit this type of motivation to manifest itself in be- 
havior. Many competent managers rather frequently experience feelings 
and reactions aroused by the nature of their work which are identical 
with those which other managers cannot permit to enter consciousness. 
The difference is that the more effective manager is able to tolerate his 
wishes and does not interpret them as so inherently bad that they must be 
repressed and denied. Thus the conditions for intense anxiety are not cre- 

222 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Subjective Danger and Performance 

If we now look at subjective fear reactions in terms of their perform- 
ance consequences, several types of managerial ineflFectiveness emerge. 
One possibility, which from the writer's experience would appear to be 
relatively common, is that a man may retain his position but experience 
so much anxiety that he cannot concentrate on his work. He becomes so 
bound up in his personal problems and his unpleasant emotional experi- 
ences that there is little time to deal effectively with managerial duties. 
Decisions are delayed and forgotten or made impulsively, and incorrectly, 
at the last minute. Sensitivity to the desires and requirements of subordi- 
nates is minimal. The type of extended logical study required for an ade- 
quate performance analysis becomes almost impossible. For long periods 
the manager is so immersed in his anxiety that he loses the capacity to 
react effectively to events in the world outside himself. "Stupid" mistakes 
thus become commonplace. 

It may also be, of course, that the disturbing emotions aroused in the 
workplace are handled through the development of various emotional 
symptoms which contain a strong defensive element. In an effort to cope 
with certain motives and the fears they provoke, there is a resort not only 
to repression but also to other methods of protecting oneself against un- 
pleasant emotion. The symptoms and performance effects which result 
have been described in Chapters 3 and 5. In this connection there has 
been much talk about the ulcer-producing characteristics of managerial 
work. To the extent that these conclusions have any basis in fact, this is a 
result of the kind of processes which have been discussed. It is not merely 
the external pressure of executive responsibility that produces emotional 
disorders and physical symptoms of emotional origin at the top levels 
of the business world, but also the inability to tolerate the personal mo- 
tives aroused, without resort to protective measures which are themselves 
potentially debilitating. 

Under somewhat different circumstances a man may be aware of the 
potentiality for anxiety inherent in a managerial position. He may not 
know why he is afraid when faced with the demands of managerial work, 
but he knows that he does feel fear. As a result he may actually refuse to 
accept a promotion into the ranks of management or into a job with 
greater managerial responsibility than he aheady has. Although refusals 
of this kind are not common in the business world, they do occur. Unfor- 
tunately, the monetary rewards offered often tend to outweigh other con- 
siderations. Thus, many men who are apparently well aware of the per- 
sonal difficulties they will experience nevertheless accept promotions be- 
cause of the financial gain anticipated. 

Special Problems in Managerial Ineffectiveness 223 

Decisions of this kind do not always hold up under the test of time. A 
manager may well overestimate his capacity to withstand the stress of job 
demands. If this is the case, avoidance may occur later, after the duties 
have already been assumed. Experience obtained while attempting to 
solve problems of ineflFectiveness indicates that an individual may bolt 
from the managerial situation while still retaining his title. The con- 
sequence can be a resort to avoidance in one or more of the areas repre- 
sented by the requirements of managerial work. Situations which call for 
wielding power, standing out from the group, carrying out certain routine 
duties, competing with others, maintaining close contact with superiors, 
or behaving in accordance with the demands of masculinity can be- 
come a source of terror. Decisions may be avoided. There may be practi- 
cally no eflFort made to maintain an adequate performance level among 
subordinates. In short, anything which is considered part of the manage- 
rial job may elicit an emotional reaction so intense that escape becomes 
the only objective. Under such conditions absenteeism may become 

Chapter 7 discussed at some length a number of studies of managerial 
actions which may become strategic for the ineffectiveness of subordi- 
nates. Since the manager who contributes to the unsatisfactory perform- 
ance of the people under him is inevitably unsatisfactory to some degree 
himself, this research is clearly relevant here. Is there anything about the 
subjective danger situation which might contribute to an understanding 
of these findings? The University of Michigan studies will serve as a gen- 
eral basis for discussion. 

Certainly the manager who spends his time working alongside his men 
and who fails to devote himself to such activities as planning the work of 
subordinates, carrying out specialized technical tasks, observing group 
performance, and motivating his men may well be attempting to avoid 
crucial job demands. Merging with the group in this manner can repre- 
sent, in many cases, a method of escaping from requirements connected 
with standing out, having considerable visibility, and being different — 
as well as an escape from the anxiety that compliance with these re- 
quirements might produce. In any specific instance, of course, some other 
type of subjective danger reaction may be involved. This behavior can 
even be caused by factors which have no relationship to anxiety at all. 
Anyone who has had experience in working with problems of human be- 
havior will recognize that the same actions can be carried out by different 
people for quite different reasons. 

Excessive supervision, to the point where subordinates feel that they 
are being constantly watched and instructed in the minutest details of 
their work, can also be a response to fear and guilt aroused in the man- 
agerial situation. If a manager tends to view the various motives and feel- 

224 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ings which have been discussed as bad, and if he anticipates punishment 
as a result, he may well become extremely sensitive to criticism and blame. 
He expects to be condemned and punished for almost everything he does. 
In reality, of course, the source of his guilt is within himself. But since the 
motives involved have become unconscious, almost anything in the en- 
vironment can be viewed as a potential source of harm. This anticipation 
of punishment may be extended to include others. The manager be- 
comes convinced that his subordinates, like himself, are certain to do 
something wrong. They become, in a sense, an extension of his own being. 
Since he is responsible for their work, he will be blamed. The only way 
of escaping is to watch each man and instruct him in such detail that he 
cannot do wrong. If the man can be supervised closely enough, perhaps 
the expected errors can be stopped before they occur and thus punish- 
ment can be avoided. Reactions of this kind are certainly not uncommon 
in the business world. They are exacerbated when higher-level manage- 
ment is in fact as critical and punitive as the manager's emotional diffi- 
culties have led him to expect. 

The third finding of the University of Michigan studies suggests a simi- 
lar process. The less e£Fective managers appear almost totally indiflFerent 
to their men, exhibiting little kindness and understanding in dealing with 
them. Contacts with subordinates are few and when they do occur tend 
to be highly formal, usually involving criticism for mistakes. Again, this 
is the kind of behavior which may result from fear and guilt. A manager 
can fail to take an interest in his men and look out for their needs because 
he is afraid that if he gets emotionally close to them, they will find out 
too much about him and condemn him. If members of his group were 
to really get to know him, he is sure that they would come to consider him 
just as reprehensible as he considers himself. He tries, therefore, to escape 
this expected condemnation by erecting a formal wall around himself 
and by appearing so strong and righteous that he could not possibly be 
suspected of evil deeds and thoughts. For such people, to be kind and 
understanding, and weak, is to be terribly vulnerable to attack. Thus any 
show of considerate behavior carries with it a potential for arousing in- 
tense anxiety. In some of these instances also, the manager's anticipation 
of hatred and condemnation by subordinates may be increased as a re- 
sult of his strong negative feelings regarding people in authority. He may 
assume that since he himself has a defiant and rebellious attitude toward 
his own superiors, his men must hate him just as much and be constantly 
on the lookout for a way to get something "on" him. 

Of course, negative feelings toward those at higher levels may also 
make it almost impossible for a manager to represent his group upward 
in the organization. This need not be entirely a result of bad relations be- 
tween the man and his boss. If the man's aggressive impulses are repressed 

Special Problems in Managerial Ineffectiveness 225 

and only fear is experienced, any contact between the two will serve to 
arouse very unpleasant emotional reactions. This is particularly likely to 
occur when the manager has a strong desire to take over the higher-level 
position and is tempted to resort to competitive methods which are gen- 
erally condemned. The fear and guilt aroused by even the thought of his 
superior may be so great as to lead to almost complete avoidance. The 
man does not exert influence up the line because he cannot bring himself 
to face those above him. 

Avoidance reactions of this kind, which preclude obtaining support 
from a superior, may also occur when very strong positive feelings are 
present. If a man harbors an intense affection for his boss, the impulses 
associated with this positive emotion may serve to arouse shame and guilt. 
The only way of avoiding these unpleasant experiences may be to re- 
main as far away from the source of the feelings as possible. 

The fifth factor established by the University of Michigan investiga- 
tions can without question be caused by reactions to a subjective danger 
situation. A man may easily fail to exercise influence over the group and 
to establish performance standards because he is afraid of his own reac- 
tions in the leadership situation. The problem may be in the area of ex- 
ercising power, or standing out from others, or carrying out routine func- 
tions, or competing with other managers and groups. Whatever the par- 
ticular difiiculty, a manager may fail to exercise his authority and accept 
the role his position requires of him because of the anxiety and 
guilt which he anticipates if he should do so. In this sense he may be said 
to fear success. He fears his own impulses, impulses which are particu- 
larly likely to be elicited in the positions which represent success in the 
business world. 

Although we have discussed only the results of the University of Michi- 
gan research, the other findings reported in Chapter 7 appear to be sub- 
ject to the same type of interpretation. As previously pointed out many 
of these studies yield conclusions which are almost identical with those 
of the Michigan investigators. Managerial ineffectiveness, although it can 
have many causes, seems particularly likely to result from subjective dan- 
ger reactions instigated by basic job requirements. 



Although we have treated the various strategic factors as 
essentially separate entities up to this point, they do not actually occur in 
such splendid isolation. The psychoanalysts often say of human behavior 
that it is overdetermined, that many causes operate at the same time to 
produce a given result. Certainly this is true in the case of ineffective per- 
formance. Occasionally there is an instance where only one factor has 
contributed to failure, but this is very rare indeed. The number involved 
can well run as high as seven or eight. This multiplicity of causation will 
be abundantly evident in the case histories which follow. In fact, the ma- 
jor reason for presenting these examples of performance failure is to give 
the reader a feeling for the great variety of ways in which the diverse ele- 
ments may interact. The cases make it clear that ineffectiveness is not a 
product of isolated causes, but the outcome of a complex pattern of inter- 

The preceding chapters have presented a large number of factors which 
may operate to push a man below acceptable standards of performance. 
For purposes of performance analysis these factors should be considered 
potential hypotheses available to the manager when he must establish 
the causes in a specific case. They provide a framework for looking at any 
given failure, a schema pointing up the various possibilities which must 
be investigated and then either eliminated from further consideration or 
established as strategic. The preceding chapters have also suggested a 
variety of potential solutions which may be applied if and when a specific 
determinant has been identified. 

In view of the crucial importance of the matter of identification, it 
might be well to introduce a review of the various possible strategic fac- 


228 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

tors at this point. The following list provides such a general schema for 
performance analysis: 

Intelligence and job knowledge 

Insufficient verbal ability 

Insufficient special ability other than verbal 

Insufficient job knowledge 

Defect of judgment or memory 
Emotions and emotional illness 

Continuing disruptive emotion (anxiety, depression, anger, excitement, 
shame, guilt, jealousy) 

Psychosis (with anxiety, depression, anger, etc., predominating) 

Neurosis (with anxiety, depression, anger, etc., predominating) 
Individual motivation to work 

Strong motives frustrated at work 

Unintegrated means to satisfy motives 

Excessively low personal work standards 

Generalized low work motivation 
Physical characteristics and disorders 

Physical illness or handicap, including brain damage 

Physical disorders of emotional origin 

Inappropriate physical characteristics 

Insufficient muscular or sensory ability 
Family ties 

Family crises 

Separation from an emotionally significant family 

Social isolation 

Predominance of family considerations over work demands 
The groups at work 

Negative consequences associated with group cohesion 

InefiFective management 

Inappropriate managerial standards or criteria 
The company 

Insufficient organizational action 

Placement error 

Organizational overpermissiveness 

Excessive span of control 

Inappropriate organizational standards or criteria 

Intracompany conflict 
Society and its values 

Application of legal sanctions 

Enforcement of cultural values by means not connected with the adminis- 
tration of the law 

Conflict between job demands and cultural values as individually held 
(equity, freedom, morality, etc.) 

Case Histories and Performance Analyses 229 

Situational forces 

Negative consequences of economic forces 
Negative consequences of geographic location 
Detrimental conditions of work 
Excessive danger 
Subjective danger 

In the case histories which constitute the major portion of this chapter, 
every eflFort has been made to include all information relevant to the iden- 
tification of strategic factors. In addition, contrary to what has become 
common practice in presenting management cases, the solutions actually 
applied by the managers having responsibility for the man's performance 
have been noted. Each case history is followed by a detailed performance 
analysis, which includes a discussion of why certain factors should be 
considered strategic in the particular instance and others should not. In 
some instances the action taken by the manager in the case appears to 
have been correct; in others a certain amount of second-guessing seems 
called for. Possible alternative procedures for establishing a satisfactory 
level of performance are therefore discussed at some length. 

Since the case histories are separate from the analyses, the reader who 
wishes to test his skill may easily do so. It might be interesting for him to 
note all suspected strategic factors on a separate piece of paper and then 
to compare these with the factors identified in the performance-analysis 
section which follows each case history. In addition, he may wish to com- 
pare his own solutions with those presented later. The approach to cor- 
rective action is based on an analysis of potentialities for change: Can 
a specific cause of failure be reversed or eliminated through some type of 
managerial action? This is the essence of the recommended procedure 
and it is the question posed with reference to each strategic factor. 

The approach to performance failure outlined here may appear exces- 
sively detailed, almost pedantic, to some. Unquestionably it requires that 
many possibilities be consciously considered and that a manager keep a 
number of things in mind at one time. Yet this is an essential condition for 
almost all learning, especially when a new skill is being developed. When 
a person first learns to start a car, every action must be considered before 
it is executed. Later, the whole process runs off in perfect sequence with- 
out his being conscious of the specific acts involved. It becomes automatic. 
Similarly, many aspects of performance analysis which originally require 
extended conscious consideration begin to occur automatically with in- 
creasing experience. Since solving problems of performance failure is a 
much more complex task than driving a car, one can never expect to carry 
out the processes involved without thinking at all. But when a sensitivity 
to the signs associated with the more frequently encountered strategic 

230 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

factors has been developed, the time required in formulating and check- 
ing hypotheses can be drastically reduced. Unfortunately, a much more 
self-conscious approach is necessary in order to apply these procedures 
during the early stages of learning. 

It is important to emphasize that performance analyses cannot be car- 
ried out merely by observing the behavior of the individual who is failing. 
Some conception of how he thinks and feels, of what he experiences, is 
almost always needed. This kind of information can sometimes be ob- 
tained from the man himself. A great deal can be learned by getting him 
to talk about and report on his thought processes, motives, and emotions. 
Additional information can be gathered by using various psychological 
tests which measure aspects of intelligence and personality, including 
values, interests, emotional patterns, etc. 

Although these techniques are not generally available to a manager 
unless he asks for assistance in solving his problem, it should be empha- 
sized that they rarely provide information which cannot be obtained 
from some other source. Tests are helpful because they yield a great deal 
of information quickly and because one can be relatively certain of the 
meaning and interpretation of the data they provide. There is nothing 
unique about this information, however. A perceptive and sensitive man- 
ager who is thoroughly informed about the functioning of human per- 
sonality can reach similar conclusions by listening to and watching a 
person over an extended period of time. This process is much more time- 
consuming than psychological testing, but it can be equally accurate. 
Whether it is or not depends on the individual manager. Some people are 
very good at inferring the characteristics of a man's so-called inner life — 
his thoughts, feelings, and desires — from extended observation and con- 
versation. They use a profound awareness of their own inner experiences 
to draw inferences regarding how others must feel. However, some are 
almost incapable of really understanding other people in this sense. Man- 
agers of this latter kind may be very effective in other respects but may 
find the conduct of an adequate performance analysis very difficult. It is 
not easy to empathize with other people sufficiently to comprehend their 
true thoughts and feelings. 

Up to this point, we have been forced to rely on the managerial experi- 
ences of individual readers as evidence for the crucial significance of per- 
formance failure. Now it is possible actually to demonstrate just how 
much time and attention unsatisfactory employees do require. The twelve 
case histories which follow should provide rather convincing evidence in 
support of the contention that work which is consistently below stand- 
ard represents one of the major problems facing business management 

Case 1 



John Schadler was hired directly into a temporary and spe- 
cially created position as assistant director of accounting in the French 
subsidiary of a large American company. It was hoped that within a 
year and a half he would replace his boss, who was retiring, and take 
complete charge of the subsidiary's accounting activities. He had been 
selected as an accountant experienced in foreign assignments after an 
extensive search carried out by a firm specializing in executive recruiting. 

Although the initial period of his employment was devoted almost en- 
tirely to learning the technical aspects of his job, he was expected to 
mave gradually into the managerial sphere. Since he had no knowledge 
of the French language, this presented certain problems. The majority 
of the employees in the department were American, and the remainder 
were French nationals with a thorough knowledge of English. However, 
there was much contact work to be done outside the company, especially 
with government officials, and John would eventually be responsible for 
much of this. As a result, one of his first duties was to learn to speak 

In addition, it was assumed that he would gradually take charge of 
things internally, initiating contacts with other executives of the com- 
pany as required and making his own recommendations as to procedures. 
This involved some difficulties. John's superior had been in his present 
job for almost twenty years and was used to running things. In principle 
he wanted his new subordinate to take increasing responsibility, but he 
was not one to gradually fade away. It was evident that John would have 
to push a little to get the experience he needed prior to his superior's re- 


232 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

tirement. All this had been made quite clear to him at the time he was 
hired. The vice-president in charge of accounting and finance for the par- 
ent company had discussed this problem at some length, indicating that 
although John would not find his new boss actively resistant, he would 
not find the elderly man of much help in smoothing the way for him 

After six months a thorough review of John's work was carried out, and 
the results were very encouraging. He had proved unusually adept in 
learning the company's accounting procedures and familiarizing himself 
with the figures contained in reports the accounting department had 
made during the past few years. In fact, his capacity for citing relevant 
facts and figures was considered rather unusual. Six months later, a sim- 
ilar review was carried out with the aim of reaching a final decision on 
John's promotion to succeed his retiring superior. It came as somewhat 
of a shock to everyone concerned that, when all available information 
was put together, it was obvious that the original timetable could not 
be followed. It would be at least another year before promotion could be 
seriously considered and there was a real possibility that it might never 

There had been little progress since the last evaluation. John had be- 
gun to take an active role in the day-to-day accounting activities of the 
company, but not in a managerial capacity. He did what he was told, but 
he himself initiated practically nothing. When pushed to take over and 
actively direct others, he seemed to lack confidence. Generally he found 
some way to avoid such situations. It was as if another accountant, al- 
though a rather high-priced one, had been added to the staff. As a result 
there was a general lightening of work loads, but John was getting no 
real training in managerial responsibilities. This was not primarily at- 
tributable to the department head's failure to provide opportunity. In 
fact, the older man had been unexpectedly helpful, especially during the 
last three or four months. He had taken several business trips which were 
far from essential just to provide a chance for his successor to gain expe- 
rience in running the department. On such occasions he would return to 
find that all important decisions had been made by several of the senior 
men in the department. 

There were other problems. John rarely wrote a memo, but when he 
did it was likely to be difiicult to understand. He would dash it off 
quickly, leaving his secretary the difficult job of integrating the words 
and sentences into a meaningful product. She usually found herself un- 
equal to the task. Nevertheless, he would characteristically sign whatever 
she presented to him without even reading it. The only exceptions were 
times when the report contained numerical data. Then the slightest error 
in transcribing numbers was likely to be noted. 

Accounting Manager: John Schddler 233 

Furthermore, he had done nothing to develop contacts either inside 
the company or in the city. In fact, there were very few people in the 
other departments who really knew him at all. He never spoke to anyone 
unless approached first and even then his answers were likely to be ex- 
tremely laconic. Within his own department he was generally well liked, 
but there were often whole days during which he said no more than ten 
words. The Schadlers' social life was restricted to a small group of Ameri- 
cans with a similar Germanic background. These were invariably people 
that Mrs. Schadler had met first. John rarely initiated social contacts or 
even conversations, either in the office or outside. He never invited any- 
one to his home. 

Perhaps the greatest failure, however, had been in his attempts to learn 
the French language. For three or four months he did nothing in this 
area. Then, after prodding, he signed up for some company-sponsored 
classes. His progress was slow and his attendance sporadic. When asked 
about this in connection with the annual evaluation, his teacher was dis- 
couraging. Her pupil had tried hard at first, but with limited success. 
Then about a month ago he had apparently given up entirely and had 
not attended class since. She frankly doubted that he would ever learn 
to speak French. "Actually," she said, "I'm not entirely sure he ever 
learned to speak English. He rarely uses the language." 

The evaluation report also contained additional information. John had 
obtained a college degree in accounting just before entering military serv- 
ice during World War II. Most of his service career had been spent in 
England, and it was there that he had met and married his wife. Having 
taken a discharge without returning to the United States, he had worked 
for first a British firm and then an American one in a variety of account- 
ing specialties. Most recently, just before getting the job in France, he had 
concentrated on tax work. The new job had involved a very considerable 
increase in salary and he had accepted it immediately when offered. 

During the next two months the situation remained unchanged in spite 
of the fact that John had been fully informed of the results of his annual 
review. Finally a decision to discharge him was reached. This had not 
been the original intent when it was first agreed that he would not suc- 
ceed to the department-head position. Unfortunately, however, the 
whole story had become common knowledge in every accounting group 
in the company, and John had been labeled a failure. As a result, efforts 
to place him in a strictly accounting, rather than managerial, job met 
with considerable resistance from the individual supervisors — resistance 
which in this particular company was traditionally respected. Retaining 
him in France was out of the question, since a reduction in force was al- 
ready underway there. 

At the time of his discharge, John mentioned several factors that might 

234 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

serve to explain his behavior. He had been raised in a German-speaking 
home and had not been introduced to EngUsh until he entered school. 
In spite of this, he could now remember only a few words of German. As 
a child he had been brought up strictly. In the presence of his parents he 
was forbidden to utter a word except when spoken to. Whenever he 
broke this stricture, a spanking inevitably followed. John's father had 
been a carpenter and, although he was able to support his family, there 
were times during the winter months when things were diflBcult. Little 
extra money was available for toys, books, and the like. In school, as 
might be expected, his marks were uneven. In arithmetic, mathematics, 
and accounting he had been an A student, but Hterature courses had been 
a diflFerent story. In fact, during his last term in college he had to make 
up a required course in Shakespeare that he had previously failed. The 
early work in grammar which required memorization had not been so 
difficult, but anything involving actual reading or writing seemed impos- 
sible. As a result an abiding dislike of reading and books had remained 
with him all his life. 

Test scores obtained shortly before the time of discharge (testing was 
not a part of the initial screening procedure) indicated a verbal ability 
approximately at the population average, in spite of a very superior level 
of numerical ability. 

Performance Analysis 

John Schadler clearly went beyond his intellectual depth, 
at least insofar as verbal ability is concerned, when he took the job in 
France. His test scores, which were unfortunately obtained belatedly, in- 
dicated a verbal ability which is barely at the minimum for managerial 
and professional occupations. When combined with a very high level of 
numerical ability, this was sufficient for accounting work, but not to meet 
the considerably greater demands of an important management job. The 
position, as most do at this level, required more skill in verbal communi- 
cation, both oral and written. John had particular difficulty in speaking 
to other people, being unusually laconic and reticent. He also did a poor 

Accounting Manager: John Schddler 235 

job when it came to writing memos. The problems in this area were fur- 
ther compounded by the requirement that he learn French. This was 
like putting salt on a wound. 

Actually, with John's early experiences and frustrations in the lan- 
guage area, it is surprising that he finished college. Without his numeri- 
cal ability and an appropriate major such as accounting, he probably 
never would have. His early training was such as to discourage any inter- 
est in things verbal. Parental strictures on talking, as well as the unpleas- 
antness of having to learn a new language with which his peers were thor- 
oughly familiar on entering school, must have had negative eflFects on his 
motivation to learn in the verbal area. What indications we have suggest, 
in addition, that the actual opportunities for verbal learning were small. 
Only native potential appears to have been at a high level, but this was 
channeled largely into the numerical sphere. Thus, in school and college, 
mathematical and accounting courses were easy for him. But in the 
verbal area, where deficiencies in motivation and environmental oppor- 
tunity had long been in evidence, performance had always been mar- 
ginal. In fact, John flunked the course in Shakespeare in spite of an A 
average in his major subject. 

Other strategic factors of an intellectual nature appear to have been 
lacking. As has already been noted, special abilities other than the verbal 
presented no problem. In fact, numerical ability was surprisingly high. 
Also, there was no difficulty associated with knowledge of the job. John 
knew his work well. He got into trouble only when faced with demands 
related to communication. Most dramatic was his lack of capacity for 
learning a new language even when given every opportunity to do so 
and when, during the initial period, he devoted considerable eflFort to the 

There is no evidence of emotional illness or of disruptive emotion. John 
may have been somewhat emotionally upset at work, but there is nothing 
to indicate that this was a strategic factor in his performance failure. 
Avoidance reactions are in evidence, especially where there are de- 
mands of a verbal nature, but this behavior is not of a kind usually con- 
sidered symptomatic. Presumably anxiety lies behind the avoidance, but 
the manifest factor is motivational rather than emotional. The anxiety 
did not break through to the point where it disrupted performance. In- 
stead, it set off behavior designed to protect John from experiencing 
unpleasant feelings and from the prospect of facing his own inadequacies 
in the verbal sphere. 

Insofar as his job continued to require accounting skills and knowl- 
edge, John was a hard worker. But this was not true of the newer man- 
agerial aspects. There was practically no expectation of enjoyment where 
the verbal areas were concerned. Money was probably the major factor 

236 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

which influenced him to take the position, yet money was not sufiicient 
to keep him from avoiding the job requirements which were most likely 
to make him acutely aware of his verbal deficiencies. In this respect he 
clearly lacked confidence and responded in a manner calculated to mini- 
mize the experience of failure. Apparently he had come to recognize his 
relative lack in the verbal area and had developed methods of avoiding 
complex demands of this kind. 

On the job this meant that he tended to employ various types of unin- 
tegrated behavior in an effort to escape from his fear of failure. John 
initiated practically no managerial and supervisory activities even when, 
rather unexpectedly, his retiring superior gave him every opportunity to 
do so. Rather than take charge in the boss's absence, he preferred to let 
others carry out his managerial duties while he concentrated on the ac- 
counting matters with which he felt most secure. Memos were rarely 
written, but even more important, the avoidance continued when they 
were, so that the job was done in a perfunctory matter. In the area of 
spoken communication John was equally deficient. He warded off any 
sense of inadequacy by speaking little and by neglecting the job demands 
which had to do with developing contacts inside and outside the com- 
pany. In this way he eliminated any possibility of failure, since he did not 
even try. The same thing happened with the French lessons. As soon as 
it became clear that the old difficulty with words would make this a very 
unpleasant experience, he quit. Thus he found a technique having no 
relationship to the attainment of job requirements which nevertheless 
made it possible to avoid a feeling of failure. 

Since there were many work activities to which John responded with 
considerably greater enthusiasm than to those of a managerial nature, 
and since he had a long record of entirely satisfactory performance as an 
accountant, the lack of work motivation cannot be considered general. 
The problem is specifically related to verbal demands. He had been taught 
in childhood to avoid oral communication. This, coupled with a not-too- 
surprising restriction of verbal development, appears to account for the 
very limited motivation for managerial work. 

Physical factors are not in evidence. The job did not actually make 
major demands in this area, except with regard to health. In this respect 
John appears to have had no particular problem. Similarly, family ties 
do not seem to be strategic. If anything, Mrs. Schadler was a positive 
force in the situation, since it was she who made whatever social contacts 
the family did have. Obviously, separation from the parental family 
could not have been a cause of failure, since John had lived and per- 
formed effectively in Europe for many years. Of course, in one sense pa- 
rental influences on motivation and intellectual development did con- 
tribute to ineffectiveness, but this kind of historical causation cannot be 

Accounting Manager: John ScJiddler 237 

considered strategic. Certainly there is nothing that can be done now to 
erase these early family events and conditions. 

At the group level there was a rather surprising lack of detrimental 
influence. It had been anticipated that the retiring manager might resist 
the idea of being replaced and make life difficult for John. This did not 
happen. Furthermore, although some informal leadership did apparently 
arise within the office, this was in response to a need created by the abdi- 
cation of formal leadership. Nobody was trying to take anything away 
from John or to make things harder for him. In fact, the people around 
him apparently made every effort to help. He failed in spite of these ef- 
forts, not because of them. 

In many respects the company did a competent job in introducing John 
to his new position. Potential diflBculties were pointed out to him, exten- 
sive preparation and training were provided, his work was evaluated at 
periodic intervals in a comprehensive manner, and adequate standards 
were established. Yet the company did inadvertently contribute in a 
major way to the failure. In retrospect it is clear that John should not 
have been hired for a managerial job at such a level. This is a typical in- 
stance of overplacement on both intellectual and motivational bases. If 
tests had been employed at the time of hiring, the potential for failure in 
the verbal area would almost certainly have been unearthed. It looks 
very much as if the recommendations of the executive recruiting firm 
were accepted without sufficiently thorough investigation by the com- 
pany. Whether the first supervisory job is assumed at a relatively high 
level, as in this case, or at the level of a foreman on a production line, the 
potentiality for failure is still high. The demands of managerial work are 
sufficiently distinctive to make success in some other capacity a poor pre- 
dictor of effectiveness. 

Although there is nothing that would suggest the presence of cultural 
factors, it might appear at first glance that situational forces were crucial. 
John was strongly motivated by a fear of failure which led him to avoid 
anything that might make him feel inadequate. He failed because when- 
ever there was some prospect that verbal demands might be at a high 
level, he did not behave in accordance with the criteria and standards 
established for his job. This is not really a situationally specific reaction. 
It is more closely allied to the requirements of the position as determined 
by the company. It was not, for instance, a foreign country and the pres- 
ence of a great many people speaking an unknown language that con- 
tributed to John's eventual dismissal, but the fact that he was required to 
learn this language in order to fulfill job demands. 

There are, then, three major strategic factors — one intellectual, one 
motivational, and one organizational. Although the first of these, the rela- 
tive verbal deficiency, might conceivably have been corrected through 

238 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

extensive training and education, there was neither sufficient time, nor 
were adequate faciHties available. In view of the long history of difficulty 
in this area and the genesis in early family training, it is doubtful that 
anything could have been done in any event. Demotion into a less ver- 
bally demanding job seems to be most appropriate. This should also 
have served to eliminate the motivational problems. In the managerial 
job, John avoided that which he quite realistically expected to. find diffi- 
cult. In a position which does not make verbal demands of this kind, 
there is no reason to believe that these avoidance reactions would be- 
come strategic. Thus, the motivational problem could be solved by elim- 
inating the need for behavior which John found almost impossible to 

The only other possible solution would have been to attempt to induce 
a more job-integrated response to his fear of failure. From the available 
evidence this would seem very difficult. And the verbal deficiency would 
still have remained. Solving the motivational problem within the con- 
fines of the present job, even if it had been possible, would still in all 
probability have left the company with an ineffective manager. It would 
seem, then, that correcting the overplacement through demotion to a 
lower-level nonmanagerial job would have provided the most appropri- 
ate solution. Presumably, in view of the man's previous training, experi- 
ence, and performance, the new job should have been in the accounting 

This is not what the company did. John was permitted, and in fact 
asked, to leave, because no other manager could be induced to take him 
in a strictly accounting capacity. Yet there is every reason to believe he 
would have done a first-class job, once he was freed of managerial de- 
mands. Certainly everything we know about him suggests outstanding 
competence in the accounting area. Although there is a possibility that 
he might not have accepted the demotion, it has been the writer's experi- 
ence that many people are rather relieved to escape disturbing situa- 
tions of this kind. More often than not, the demotion is accepted with a 
degree of acquiescence which comes as a surprise to almost everyone 

We cannot, of course, reach a judgment as to whether some group 
should have been forced to take John Schadler in an accounting capacity, 
or whether a really effective selling job could have convinced some man- 
ager of his potential value. It may have been that in this particular com- 
pany, efforts to force a manager to take a subordinate against his wishes 
would have provoked so much conflict that the loss would have been 
greater than the gain. Nevertheless, the company did waste a man whom 
it probably should have tried hard to keep. There must have been at least 
a few accountants on the payroll of a company of this size with less to 

Accounting Manager: John Schddler 239 

offer than John and with even less potential for promotion to managerial 
ranks. Probably the best approach under the circumstances would 
have been to make a trial appointment in an accounting job for six 
months or a year, on the assumption that John could prove himself by 

A personnel department which has built up a record of correct recom- 
mendations in the past can usually obtain acceptance for this kind of trial 
placement without too much difficulty, even when it lacks the authority 
to make such decisions on its own. Often consistent rejection of a man 
such as John suggests that similar personnel recommendations have 
proved incorrect rather frequently in the past. 

Case 2 


Joseph Johnson started work at the plant right after leaving 
school. The town was small and did not offer much opportunity for em- 
ployment to a young man seventeen years of age seeking his first job. 
Furthermore, the depression years were no time to do anything but 
grasp whatever kind of work came along and hold on tight. What came 
along for Joe was a chance to join one of the loading crews at the factory. 
He quit school before graduation in order to be sure the opportunity 
did not slip through his fingers. His father, who had worked in the main- 
tenance department at the plant practically since it started up, felt it 
would be best to take the job. Also, several of Joe's friends who were al- 
ready employed on the same crew urged him to join them. 

Although the loading-crew jobs were usually considered starting posi- 
tions from which people moved over into production as openings oc- 
curred, this particular crew remained almost intact for a number of years. 
Characteristically, when a promotion was offered to a young man in the 
crew, he would turn it down, indicating that he preferred to stay with his 
present group. Joe was no exception. He declined three offers of better- 
paying jobs before finally moving to a production unit, and tlien he 
changed only because his crew was broken up. Unfortunately, he had no 
more than started his new work when orders arrived for him to report 
for military service. As an unskilled laborer not yet fully trained in his 
new position, he had little basis for requesting deferment. 

Four years passed before Joe returned to his hometown to stay. He 
turned up at the plant personnel office several days later. A few questions 
brought out the facts that he wanted to return to his old job, that he had 

Production Foreman: Joseph Johnson 241 

married a local girl while home on leave, and that he was darn glad to be 
back. Military service had been all right, but he preferred the friends 
he had grown up with to the hodgepodge of people from everywhere that 
he had been exposed to in the Army. His service record was satisfactory, 
although he had never risen above the rank of corporal. There was little 
question about his being given a job. Legal requirements regarding the 
reemployment of returning veterans were of course important, but in 
addition the prewar employment record carried the notation, "A willing 
employee, completing all work promptly with a minimum of error; has 
done a commendable job." Everyone was glad to have him back. 

The years that followed were relatively uneventful. Several of the 
boys from the old loading crew went away to college on the GI bill. 
Some took higher-paying jobs in the city, although many of these even- 
tually drifted back to the plant. Joe held on tight to what he had and 
stayed with the people who understood him. He was well thought of 
and well liked, and it was obvious that he enjoyed his friends at work 
and his family. There were occasional opportunities to work elsewhere — 
outside the plant and with other groups within. None were sufficiently 

As time went by Joe accumulated more and more seniority. With the 
war years added in, he began to develop a real stake in his job. He 
talked about this a lot — the fact that he was an old-timer, that he re- 
membered how things used to be before the war, and that he had stayed 
with the gang through thick and thin. Gradually, increasing opportunities 
to take responsibility occurred. The foreman was often away because of 
conferences, illness, or vacations. It was traditional that the senior man 
take over in his absence. Joe was that man. He was never formally se- 
lected and in fact, the superintendent was not even consulted. It had 
always been done that way. 

However, when the foreman rather suddenly took a disability retire- 
ment, a more formal decision had to be made with regard to a replace- 
ment. Several candidates were considered, but Joe Johnson obviously had 
the inside track. It would be hard to turn him down. He knew the work, 
had had supervisory experience as an alternate to the foreman, and per- 
haps most important, was a popular man throughout the plant. The com- 
bination of seniority, experience, and popularity was hard to argue 
against. If Joe was not selected, a number of people, especially the old- 
timers, might be rather unhappy. There was little point in running the 
risk of stirring them up. After all, Joe probably was the best man for the 
job. The appointment went through without a hitch. 

The work continued much as before. The new foreman seemed to be 
doing all right; at least, there was no trouble from his group. Grievances 
and disciplinary actions were in fact at an all-time low. The unit was 

242 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

overstaffed according to company standards for the type of work done, 
but so were a number of other groups in the plant. Also, breakdowns 
seemed to be rather frequent. But that could not be considered Joe's 
fault. The equipment was old and the maintenance department over- 
worked. Nobody could break any production records with that kind of 
situation. Yet it was because of the maintenance problem that the trouble 

Late one afternoon a maintenance foreman who had a reputation as a 
good "management man" and also as one of Joe Johnson's least ardent 
admirers, reported a strange situation to his boss. He and his crew had 
been working on the equipment again and had finished up in Joe's area 
about midafternoon. But the operators were nowhere in sight. A check 
of the time cards indicated that the three men were in the plant, al- 
though nobody seemed to know where at the moment. Joe said he would 
take care of it and tell the men what the maintenance crew had done 
when they were located. When the maintenance foreman went through 
the area an hour later to get some parts, the three men were still not there, 
although they were still punched in. 

An informal check was made just before five o'clock, and the three 
men were clearly not in evidence. Yet their time cards were punched out 
as of quitting time. Joe was on the carpet five minutes after he arrived 
at the plant in the morning. He had very litde to say. The men must have 
been around the plant somewhere. Things had been pretty hectic the pre- 
ceding afternoon and he had not had time to look for them. No, they had 
not checked with him before leaving the area, but he had had to be off 
the floor several times early in the afternoon. No, he had not seen them 
check out at five. 

One of the three workers, however, was less reticent. When the break- 
down occurred and the maintenance men were called, they had washed 
up, gone out the gate, and stopped at a bar down the street for a beer. 
They just had not made it back by quitting time. With this start, the rest 
of the story could be pieced together rather easily. Apparently the fore- 
man had not seen his three men leave, but when their absence became 
evident he had done nothing to find them. Presumably he knew from 
past experience where they were. He had asked the others to work a little 
harder so that the absences would not show up in the production figures. 
This had been done. At first it was not completely clear who had punched 
the men out at quitting time. However, by a process of ehmination the 
field was narrowed down to two men, one of whom was Joe. A second 
period of questioning brought a confession. Yes, he had been the one. 

Further investigation unearthed a number of similar instances. One 
man who had frequently arrived at work under the influence of alcohol 
on Monday mornings only to be sent home had never lost any pay be- 

Production Foreman: Joseph Johnson 243 

cause of these episodes, a fact which he himself found it hard to under- 
stand. Apparently his time card had always been turned in to indicate a 
full day's work. Another man whose absenteeism was so excessive as 
to make continued employment questionable suddenly started working 
very steadily — for the record. Questioning indicated little change in his 
actual behavior. The company was obviously paying for a good deal of 
work that was not performed. A decision was tentatively reached to dis- 
charge Joseph Johnson for inability to fulfill the requirements of his job. 

When this conclusion was told to Joe he launched into a long and im- 
passioned plea for "just one more chance." He was in debt, his youngest 
child was sick, and his father, who had retired from the company just 
over a year before, had been ill for several months. The effect of his dis- 
charge on the father's condition might be drastic. There was more. He 
had not intended to do anything wrong, only to protect the gang so they 
would not get in trouble. The boys were likely to be rather unhappy if 
he tried to take action in cases like this. It seemed best not to stir them 
up. In the end it was easier to punch the time cards for them and forget 
the whole thing. There was less trouble that way, and anyhow, it was a 
good thing for a foreman to remain popular with his men. By the time 
he finished, Joe had created the impression that he had not only exhibited 
admirable loyalty to his group, but had also done the company a good 
turn by keeping the workers happy and morale at a high level. Even the 
superintendent felt a little sorry for him. It was unfair to punish a man 
too severely in a case like this. After all, he had had less trouble in his 
group than most of the other foremen. 

In the end Joe was demoted and put back in the job which he had 
started over twenty-five years before — with the loading crew. He was not 
fired, and he did not quit. 

Performance Analysis 

Intellectually, Joseph Johnson appears to be quite adequate 
to the demands of his work. He knew the job well, including the rules 
which were supposed to govern his behavior. There is no reason to be- 

244 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

lieve that he was outwitted by his subordinates. His job as a foreman 
would presumably be placed in group 2, and thus it required no more 
than average intelligence, perhaps less. Joe's verbal ability was at least 
that high. A similar conclusion seems true for the emotional area. There 
is no evidence of emotional problems. In fact, throughout the incident 
which led to his demotion, the foreman behaved in a very cool and col- 
lected manner. There is nothing to indicate a particularly high level of 
anxiety. It may have been that he acted as he did out of fear that his sub- 
ordinates would retaliate if he should actually accept his managerial re- 
sponsibilities, but it is the motivation, rather than the emotion, which 
actually appears as detrimental to performance. 

In one sense of the term, Joe's work motivation was, of course, quite 
adequate. On the loading crew he was described as a "willing worker," 
and there is no reason to believe that this label was any less appropriate 
when he became a foreman. Yet he did seek to satisfy his desire for group 
acceptance and popularity in a way which was clearly detrimental to per- 
formance in his managerial role. Rather than identify with the manage- 
rial group and attempt to satisfy his motives in this context, he main- 
tained his very close relationship with the workers and continued to seek 
the pleasure he anticipated in their approval. This kind of motivation 
with its concomitant extreme loyalty to the group had, in fact, been in 
evidence ever since Joe started with the company. 

He gave up his education and failed to complete high school as a re- 
sult of the urging of his father and his friends. Everyone else seemed to 
feel that he should accept the job at the plant, and so he did. Later he 
turned down three opportunities for promotion and higher pay in order 
to remain with his buddies on the loading crew. After the war the pat- 
tern remained the same. Perhaps it was actually reinforced by his 
marriage to a local girl and his experiences while in military service. He 
gave up many chances for better jobs and for education under the GI bill 
to live in his hometown and remain among his friends. Even opportuni- 
ties for advancement within the plant were unacceptable to him if they 
necessitated a move away from his group to new and less familiar asso- 

As time went on, the significance of group, plant, and hometown ties 
became even more apparent. Joe talked frequently about his seniority 
and his long-term membership in the group at work. He was clearly proud 
of his loyalty and his widespread popularity. The almost complete lack 
of trouble in his group, coupled with the minimal number of grievances 
and disciplinary actions, suggests that he had, in fact, consistently been 
able to maintain a high level of acceptance among his subordinates. But 
this state of aflFairs was apparently achieved at some cost to the quantity 
of work produced. 

Production Foreman: Joseph Johnson 245 

Behavior aimed at protecting subordinates to the detriment of their 
performance is consistent with this motivational pattern. For a long time 
Joe had apparently been gaining the group acceptance and popularity 
he desired by abdicating from the role required by his managerial posi- 
tion. In this way he contributed directly to the reduced efiEectiveness of 
his subordinates. The behavior which led to demotion was not a result of 
"laziness." The foreman did not merely fail to check on the actions of his 
men; he took specific steps to protect his absent workers and asked the 
others to work harder in order to cover up for them. Furthermore, he 
had been doing this sort of thing for some time, to the point where one 
apparent alcoholic was dumbfounded by the extent to which he had 
been shielded from discipline and loss of pay. In this instance Joe had 
apparently gone well beyond what the group expected of him. As he him- 
self pointed out, however, he was merely trying to keep the men 
happy, to avoid trouble, and to retain his popularity. All this he accom- 
plished, but by using methods which were totally lacking in integration 
with job demands. 

There is no reason to suspect that physical factors were operative. The 
behavior that led to failure is not amenable to explanation in such terms, 
and in any event we have no indication that the man suffered from any 
physical illness. The role of the family requires a somewhat more extended 
discussion. Joe was married and had several children. His youngest 
child had been sick and so had his father. In addition, there were appar- 
ently some financial problems. Yet none of these factors appear to be 
really strategic. They became known when Joe expected to lose his job 
and was attempting to marshal every argument he could which might 
result in his retention. Even then, however, he did not base his entire 
appeal for clemency on these family considerations. In fact, there is no 
particular reason to believe that the events at home had precipitated any 
severe emotional reaction in Joe. Presumably he did have family prob- 
lems, but it would be very difficult to account for his behavior on this 
basis. The ties with his subordinates appear to have been much more 
closely related to his performance failure than any ties he may have had 
with people outside the company. If anything, concern for his family 
should have led him to be more careful about fulfilling the demands of 
his job, rather than less so. 

The work group, consisting of the foreman and those under his supervi- 
sion, does appear to have been influential. Joe was strongly motivated to 
gain group acceptance and approval. This motivation, in interaction with 
the cohesive pressures of his group, contributed in no small way to his 
subsequent trouble. There is considerable evidence indicating that cohe- 
siveness was high. When an emergency arose because of the absence of 
the three men, everyone worked together to make up the lost production. 

246 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

After his behavior had been discovered, the foreman expressed very 
clearly the attitudes and norms regarding matters of mutual protection 
which prevailed in the group. He had intended "only to protect the gang 
so they would not get in trouble." That he felt under some pressure to do 
this is reflected in his statement that "the boys were likely to be rather 
unhappy" otherwise. It was "a good thing for a foreman to remain pop- 
ular with his men." Presumably Joe felt that a failure to protect other 
members of the group would have jeopardized the popularity which was 
so important to him. 

Actually, all the instances of performance failure that we know of can 
be accounted for in terms of these anticipated group pressures. The fore- 
man consistently subordinated the requirements of his managerial posi- 
tion to group attitudes regarding protection of members. In doing so 
he became ineffective himself. He punched time cards for the men who 
were absent at the bar and took other steps to protect them. He covered 
up for another man who often arrived at work inebriated. He kept a man 
who had a record of excessive absenteeism from being fired by making it 
appear that his absences had ceased. All these would appear to represent 
negative consequences associated with a high level of group cohesive- 
ness — consequences which resulted not only in a failure to establish ade- 
quate standards, but also in payments for work not done. The only factor 
suggesting that group cohesion was not at an absolute maximum was 
the surprising rapidity with which the true story came out. At least one 
man in the group apparently did not feel as strongly about the matter of 
loyalty as Joe did. 

At the company level, there is one obvious strategic factor. A close 
examination of Joe's prior behavior would have revealed a strong attach- 
ment to the worker group and an obvious reluctance to assume mana- 
gerial responsibilities where any conflict with group loyalties might be 
involved. There was, in fact, no real evaluation of the man's potentialities 
for higher-level work at the time of promotion. He took over initially be- 
cause of his seniority, and then, having accumulated some experience, 
became an obvious choice for a permanent appointment. Yet in the Army 
he had never attained a rank above that of corporal, although he donned 
a uniform very early in the war. Obviously he had not been viewed as 
possessing much leadership potential by his military superiors. He had 
shown himself to be industrious and popular, but also rather dependent 
on others and totally lacking in ability to go against the wishes of the 
group. His promotion was based to a much greater extent on matters 
such as seniority and a wish to avoid antagonizing other old-timers than 
on an anticipation that he would be an outstanding manager. It is not 
surprising that the placement decision proved erroneous. 

There is also some suggestion of organizational overpermissiveness. 
This is particularly apparent in the decision to promote Joe into the job 

Production Foreman: Joseph Johnson 247 

of foreman. The action was taken primarily because it was the easiest 
way out. It would cause the least trouble. Something of the same atti- 
tude at higher levels is apparent at the end. The superintendent clearly 
felt sorry for Joe and placed emphasis on the lack of trouble within his 
group. There is throughout a strong implication that the atmosphere in 
the plant, insofar as it reflected top-level policies and decisions, tended 
to place excessive value on the minimization of conflict. Probably this 
organizational climate contributed to Joe's actions. Perhaps he did have 
some reason to feel that his behavior was in the company's interest. The 
means may have been questionable, but at least he had been successful in 
keeping his men happy and morale at a high level. It is hard to judge the 
influence of this factor. It certainly could not account in and of itself for 
what occurred, but it may well have been a contributory cause. 

It is possible that some might consider Joe's reaction to his group as 
reflecting strong cultural values related to loyalty and "squealing." Yet 
he actually gave the company's money to men who had not earned it, 
and he lied about their behavior. In this sense he was without question 
dishonest. Also, it is not certain that Joe was completely convinced he had 
done the right thing. For a time he tried to deny his complicity, and thus 
to avoid the disciplinary action he clearly anticipated. Probably it is best, 
therefore, to view his behavior as representing more of a response to 
group than to cultural pressures. It is not widely held that a man in his 
position should have acted as he did. 

Situational forces appear to be similarly absent. There is no reason to 
believe that Joe's behavior derived from anxiety precipitated by a subjec- 
tive danger situation. He was not so much afraid of his own impulses 
and wishes in the managerial job as he was desirous of obtaining the 
approval of his men. He did not avoid managing; he preferred something 
else more and thus ended by not fulfilling the demands of his managerial 

Let us take up the various possibilities for change. The motive which 
led to Joe's difficulties was deep-seated and dominant: Almost more than 
anything else, he wanted to be accepted and popular within a group. 
There seems little chance that the motive itself could have been changed 
within a reasonable period of time. On the other hand, the resulting be- 
havior possibly could have been integrated with job demands. Joe's loy- 
alty might conceivably have been transferred from the worker group to 
the manager group. Unfortunately, however, by the time his perform- 
ance deficiencies became known it was too late for this. To continue him 
as a foreman or in any other managerial capacity would have been almost 
impossible. The company was not that overpermissive, and certainly 
there are few firms which can afford to be. Keeping him in a manage- 
ment position would have established an example for others which could 
have produced devastating consequences. 

248 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

For this reason the possibiUty that he could have been transferred to 
another supervisory position does not appear to offer an appropriate so- 
lution. There are, moreover, other factors which would have made this 
course of action questionable. If Joe had been put in charge of another 
cohesive group, the chances are good that much the same thing would 
have happened again. It might not have been the time cards this time, 
but a man who is as sensitive as Joe to group pressure cannot possibly 
continue to act in accordance widi the requirements of his managerial 
position when there is any conflict between that role and the demands of 
his group. If, on the other hand, an attempt had been made to minimize 
these pressures by selecting a noncohesive group, Joe would have experi- 
enced a sharp frustration of one of his strongest motives. The exact re- 
sult of this blocking process cannot be predicted, but there is a real pos- 
sibility that some other type of performance failure would have appeared. 

It seems, then, that some type of demotion along the lines actually taken 
offers the most appropriate solution. This not only serves to rectify the 
original placement error, but represents a shift away from the pattern of 
overpermissiveness which seemed to characterize the plant. Once removed 
from the ranks of management Joe should have had no further difficulty, 
at least as a result of group factors. The conflict between his typical re- 
sponse to cohesive pressures and his job demands was removed by the 
change in occupational requirements. In addition, a sizable reduction in 
rank and pay should have served the purpose of maintaining adequate 
motivation and standards within the organization. It seems improb- 
able that firing would have accomplished this goal any more effectively. 
Keeping Joe around provided a constant reminder that certain kinds of 
behavior could result in disciplinary action. 

Although the move actually made appears to be correct in principle, 
the specific change is open to question. Joe was well into his forties by 
this time, and loading-crew work is likely to be physically very demand- 
ing. It is generally most suitable for younger men. If the ex-foreman is 
to remain in a lower-level position, the loading crew does not appear an 
appropriate spot. In time the physical demands will almost inevitably 
become excessive. Also, Joe has valuable experience that could be used 
more effectively in a direct-production job. It is very possible that he may 
fail again if he remains on the loading crew. This prospect could be 
avoided by placing him in a position where experience rather than physi- 
cal strength would provide the key to success. Probably, in view of events, 
it was wise not to demote Joe within his existing group, however. There 
is a good chance that mutual recriminations will continue there for some 
time to come, and a sizable decrease in cohesion may well occur. This is 
not the kind of social environment in which Joe performs most effectively. 
In fact, he might well have been actively rejected by his former subordi- 
nates, with very detrimental consequences for his work. 

Case 3 


Willard Davison entered the company's employ in a rela- 
tively unique manner. The process started when his father-in-law called 
the president and asked if there was a position available that Will might 
be able to handle. A note subsequently traveled down through channels 
and landed on the desk of the man in charge of sales recruiting. The 
note indicated only that this was a young man whom the president felt 
might be useful to the organization and that the young man's father-in- 
law owned a firm which for many years had been a major purchaser of 
the company's products. Shortly thereafter, Will was asked to come into 
the personnel office. He was interviewed and hired. Having had prior 
work experience, including some selling, he was placed directly as a sales- 
man. He would attend the sales training school and then double up for 
about two months with the man currently in his territory. Subsequently 
that man would be transferred and Will would take over. 

From the beginning it was apparent that the company had not gained 
a particularly effective salesman. During the two-month field training 
period, the two men traveled together, but the other man did the work. 
Frequently Will stayed in the car or in a nearby bar, if he could find one, 
while their business was being transacted. The old-timer, who was con- 
sidered one of the top salesmen in the company, was very happy to be 
out of the situation when the two months were over. He had had prac- 
tically no assistance in performing his job and, in addition, had to find 
his partner when he wandered off, had to get him up in the morning, and 
had somehow to find a way to force him to learn something about the ter- 
ritory and the products he was supposedly selling. It had not been easy. 


250 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Will remained in the territory for four years. During that time it 
slumped from its previous high position to one somewhat below the com- 
pany average. Most of the drop occurred within the first year. The thing 
that disturbed the sales manager most, however, was that sales continued 
at the same relatively low level in spite of a large amount of new industrial 
construction in the area which should have produced a lot of new busi- 
ness. As far as could be determined, Will rarely, if ever, called on these 
new plants. It was not surprising that competitors got their business. As 
time went on it became increasingly clear that the job was being han- 
dled poorly in other respects. Customers became angry because the sales- 
man failed to keep many of his appointments. Orders were often deliv- 
ered late because the salesman had delayed several days before putting 
them through to the regional office. The salesman didn't know anything 
regarding several new products that customers had asked about after see- 
ing advertising material on them. On occasion the salesman had gone to 
sleep in the waiting room when unable to see a purchasing agent imme- 
diately. He spent a considerable part of his time playing golf rather than 
on the job. The only reason Will was retained in a sales capacity was that 
no one knew what else to do with him. He had been repeatedly informed 
of the unsatisfactory nature of his performance, but with no effect. 

Finally, after a change of regional managers, he was brought into the 
office and put to work in a job involving primarily clerical duties con- 
nected with product distribution. It was hoped that the increased sur- 
veillance possible in the oflSce might permit a greater control over his 
activities. He was told at the time of transfer that he was considered only 
barely satisfactory as a salesman, if that, and that a considerable improve- 
ment in performance would be expected. Will agreed that he had not 
done a very good job in the field, but felt he could do better. 

During his two and a half years in the office his superiors became in- 
creasingly dissatisfied. He was almost invariably late arriving in the morn- 
ing and his absence record was unusually poor. He showed practically 
no enthusiasm regarding his work, although he was greatly interested in a 
large range of outside activities: golf, sailing, horseback riding, bridge, 
football, sports cars, etc. He and his wife were very active in the social 
life of the community, spending considerable time at the country club 
and entertaining frequently. 

When WilFs failures were called to his attention or when he was pushed 
to complete work for which others were waiting, he often became resist- 
ant and stubborn. Pressure and criticism had only a minimal effect. He 
seemed to take the attitude that nobody had a right to tell him what to 
do, that if they didn't Hke his work they could find someone else to do 
it. On other occasions when discussing these problems with his boss, he 
would frankly admit that he was not performing at the level generally 

Industrial Salesman: Willard Davison 251 

expected, but he somehow conveyed the impression that he didn't care 
much. When he did work, he was quite capable of doing a satisfactory 
job, although he showed litde evidence of initiative in going beyond what 
was expected. Errors in his reports were not unusually frequent, although 
it should have been possible to eliminate them entirely if he had been 
willing to take the time to check his work. 

The culmination was a final decision to put Will on probation for two 
months. If there was no improvement during that time, he would have 
to find a job elsewhere. This decision was reached only after consultation 
at rather high levels in the company. To lose the business provided by 
Will's father-in-law would certainly represent a most unfortunate conse- 
quence. Every eflFort should be made, therefore, to keep him if he could 
perform at even a minimally effective level. 

As the end of the two months neared, it was evident that Will's per- 
formance could not by any stretch of the imagination be called satisfac- 
tory. The pile of uncompleted work on his desk was as high as it had 
ever been, and he had missed several days from work which just hap- 
pened to coincide with the beginning of the hunting season. The question 
of what to do now was passed rapidly up through channels until it set- 
tled firmly on the desk of the industrial relations vice-president. The lat- 
ter assembled all the information available, utilizing both personnel 
records and data provided by some of his friends who were familiar with 
the Davison family, and came up with the following picture. 

Young Will had been a problem to his family for many years. He had 
been sent to a military prep school which was strong on discipline but 
not very scholastically demanding. There he had maintained a barely sat- 
isfactory record in his course work while participating in one escapade 
after another. He probably would have been thrown out of school long 
before graduation day had it not been for two factors. His family was a 
major contributor to the various fund campaigns which were conducted 
each year, and the headmaster had interpreted Will's behavior as a per- 
sonal challenge to his ingenuity. Somehow the boy not only graduated, 
but as a result of a surprisingly good performance on his college en- 
trance examinations gained admission to a small but well-regarded col- 

Free of military school discipline, however, Will devoted his efforts to 
having a good time and flunked out at the end of the first year. He then 
entered a college in the South which was particularly desirous of attract- 
ing Northern students, and eventually he graduated. Shortly thereafter 
he married and entered the employ of his father-in-law's firm with the 
objective of learning the various aspects of the business and perhaps 
eventually rising to a position at a policy-making level. 

After about three years, however, there had apparently been a change 

252 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

of plans, and it was then that the father-in-law had assisted Will in obtain- 
ing a position with his present employer. The official explanation was 
that he was expected to gain broadening experience through exposure to 
the policies and procedures of another company. There were persistent 
rumors, however, that family relationships had been badly strained as a 
result of the young man's poor showing on the job and his frequent va- 
cations. The father-in-law had apparently proposed, and perhaps forced, 
the job change as a solution to an intolerable situation. 

The vice-president's study of the problem produced some additional 
information. Will and his wife both came from families with considerable 
money. Both families had been generous in their financial gifts to their 
children, with the result that the young Davisons were very well oflF. In 
addition, the family pressures were such that Will would almost certainly 
have to be reemployed by his father-in-law's firm if he should lose his 
present position. Will had apparently been aware of this fact for some 

Armed with this information, the vice-president decided that the risks 
were not too great and that Will should be replaced. After further discus- 
sion, which this time included the president himself, this conclusion was 
accepted and the young man was fired at the end of his probation period. 
As had been anticipated, this had no effect on purchases of the company's 

Performance Analysis 

Intelligence can be largely ruled out as a factor. Both the 
sales and the clerical jobs are below the top level in terms of verbal de- 
mand. From Willard Davison's family background, from his performance 
on the college entrance tests, and from the fact of college graduation, it 
may be inferred that his mental ability was adequate to the work. His 
two jobs required somewhat different constellations of special abilities, 
yet the performance failures were almost identical. That special abilities 
were strategic thus seems improbable. There was some deficiency in job 
knowledge in evidence during Will's tenure as a salesman; he failed to 
keep informed about new products. This, however, would account for 
only a limited aspect of his failure. He had had experience in sales work 

Industrial Salesman: Willard Davison 253 

before and had completed the normal training. It seems probable, there- 
fore, that his lack of knowledge was as much attributable to motivational 
factors as to intellectual. The relatively small significance of the job-knowl- 
edge aspect in the total picture is further attested to by the fact that this 
type of deficiency did not appear in the clerical job. 

In the emotional area there are two possibilities that require discus- 
sion. Some of Will's behavior suggests that he might have been avoiding 
certain situations which caused him to experience anxiety. There were so 
many things that he just did not do. On the other hand, his pattern of 
failure in the ofiice situation was almost identical with that manifested in 
the field. In two totally difiFerent jobs and environments he produced prac- 
tically the same behavior. This does not look like a typical anxiety reac- 
tion. Furthermore, there is a real question whether Will was avoiding 
what he feared or merely doing what he preferred. If the absences dur- 
ing hunting season and the time off taken to play golf are characteristic, 
it would appear that the latter provides a better explanation. It is known 
that he had many interests outside his job. Since, in addition, there is no 
evidence of severe anxiety, it seems appropriate to conclude that this 
factor was probably not strategic. 

It is still possible, however, that another type of emotional factor did 
play a causal role. Could Will's behavior be accounted for as reflecting a 
sullen anger, a negativism toward those holding authority over him? 
Was he basically in rebellion, to a point where his hatred made it impos- 
sible for him to work? Again the answer would appear to be no, although 
the possibility of some such influence cannot be entirely ruled out. On 
the surface, at least, he appeared to lack enthusiasm for his work rather 
than to be angered by it. When pushed and criticized, he did become 
resistant and stubborn, but this is not an uncommon response under the 
circumstances. Furthermore, he freely admitted on several occasions 
that his work was not up to par. He was not mad at anyone; he just did 
not seem to care. And he was equally ineffective whether he was under 
pressure from his superiors or left to his own devices. He responded poorly 
to the period of probation, but he did no better when he was on his own 
as a salesman. 

Even more detrimental to the rebellion hypothesis, he seemed entirely 
willing to accept help from people senior to him. He took the money 
his family gave him, joined the country club, and allowed his father-in- 
law to assist him in gaining employment. This is certainly not the typical 
pattern of a young man in rebellion against his parents and other es- 
tablished authority. If anger and negativism were in any way involved, 
they almost certainly affected performance through the motivational pat- 
terns thus established, rather than influencing it directly. He did not con- 
sistently manifest emotion of this kind whenever his work was below 

254 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Will's lack of enthusiasm for his jobs and his preference for a great va- 
riety of nonwork activities have already been noted. This and other evi- 
dence suggests that there was a basic problem in the motivational area. 
The older and more experienced salesman was left to do all the work dur- 
ing the two-month training period. Will was usually to be found in a bar, 
in the car, or in bed. Throughout his period as a salesman he was absent 
often, on many occasions to play golf. He failed to solicit new business in 
spite of an expansion of industrial activity in his area. Appointments with 
customers were often broken, and orders arrived late because Will did not 
get around to sending them in. He even went to sleep in the reception 
room while waiting to see several purchasing agents. His lack of knowl- 
edge regarding new products has already been noted. 

The pattern in the oflSce again suggests a young man who finds little 
satisfaction for his primary motives in the job situation. He was late and 
absent often. Enthusiasm for his work was low, although in other areas 
such as sailing, bridge, sports cars, and the like, it was high. He rarely 
checked his reports and was usually behind schedule. There was often a 
huge pile of uncompleted work on his desk. Will clearly found his satis- 
faction in life outside the job situation. In fact, this tendency is so marked 
that it is diflBcult to determine from a knowledge of his work be- 
havior exactly what his dominant motives were. Whatever they did in- 
volve, he apparently did not see job-integrated activity as a means to 
their attainment. 

Furthermore, these motivational difficulties do not seem to be specific 
to any one job or situation. They were present in both the sales and cleri- 
cal positions, but apparently there was more to the problem than that. 
Will had consistently failed throughout his life, usually because of moti- 
vational factors. He would have been thrown out of military school but 
for parental intervention, and he did flunk out of college in spite of satis- 
factory marks on his entrance examinations. In both cases he devoted 
most of his energies to having a good time. Subsequently he did graduate 
from another school which had considerably lower standards. Yet he 
apparently failed in his first job, in part, at least, because of his continued 
absence from work. And this job was with a firm run by his father-in-law, 
where one might expect that the demands placed on him would be light. 
In fact. Will would appear to be something of a playboy. From what evi- 
dence is available, it looks as if his deficiencies in work motivation were 

This behavior does not seem to be of a kind which might be explained 
in physical terms. In the area of family factors, however, there is some 
reason to suspect a strategic cause. Will's father-in-law had obtained the 
sales job with the company for him, as well as the original position which 
he had held after completing college. In fact, it was generally assumed 

Industrial Salesman: Willard Davison 255 

that as a favored son-in-law he would eventually return to a high office 
in the family firm. Will himself had every reason to believe that this 
would be the case and that, should he lose his present position, he would 
be guaranteed other employment by virtue of his family connections. 
Furthermore, both families had provided him with all the money needed 
to live comfortably and indulge his various interests. Apparently they had 
also provided him with a certain social status, which he found very en- 

In fact, throughout his life Will had been protected from experiencing 
the consequences of his actions. This pattern continued to operate during 
the period of his employment with the company. He was almost cer- 
tainly aware of the pressures which had induced the company to retain 
him on the payroll in spite of his unsatisfactory performance. He also 
knew that he would not remain long among the ranks of the unemployed 
if these pressures should prove insufiicient. What appears as an excessive 
degree of irresponsibility might, therefore, be interpreted as in large part 
attributable to family factors. Will had no reason to fear failure. As long 
as his parents and his wife's parents continued to provide the means to 
satisfy his desires and continued to protect him against the possibility 
of what he might consider failure, he had little reason to exert himself at 
work or to live up to existing company standards. 

Compared with these external factors, any internal group determinants 
appear insignificant. Will worked under various managers and in associa- 
tions with a number of different people, and his level of performance 
remained much the same. It is improbable that a work group was strate- 
gic; if anything, his superiors went well beyond normal expectations in 
their attempts to help Will. 

Many of the decisions regarding the handling of the situation were, of 
course, basically organizational in nature. The young man's family con- 
nections gave his difficulties a significance which extended far beyond 
the confines of his immediate work group. Nevertheless, this case history 
does illustrate clearly the time and attention that a single ineffective 
performer can require. In spite of all this company involvement, however, 
there is nothing that would suggest any contribution to failure from the 
organizational level. The initial training was entirely adequate, especially 
for a man with sales experience. Various types of corrective action were 
initiated, including transfer, attempts to enforce standards, and a proba- 
tionary period. If we are right in assuming that Will's lack of work moti- 
vation was of a general nature, then there can be no placement error. 
Wherever he was assigned, he would have failed. 

At the level of the society as a whole, there is nothing that would sug- 
gest a strategic role. Will's problems were in the area of individual motiva- 
tion; they did not have cultural origins. Situational forces were also min- 

256 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

imal. He continued to fail in a number of different environments and 
under a variety of circumstances. This is not consistent with the idea of 
situational causation. The young man clearly carried his propensities 
for failure with him wherever he went and, with the unwitting assistance 
of his family, imposed them on the particular miHeu in which he hap- 
pened to find himself. 

Any change in this situation would have been extremely difficult. With- 
out a major shift in family attitudes and behavior, any use of negative 
motivation to foster more satisfactory performance appears impossible. 
Will had no reason to fear failure. He showed this clearly in his reactions 
to criticism of his work and to the probationary period. Short of the 
threat of actual bodily harm, an alternative clearly not available, there is 
little that can be done to arouse the specter of fear in such cases. On the 
positive side the prospects are equally dim. Ideally some strong motive 
would be located and a method of satisfaction provided within the job. 
But there is nothing to suggest how this might be accomplished in Will's 
case. No motives which offer a potential for integration with work de- 
mands are in evidence. A check back on his educational and occupational 
history provides no clue; the record of continuing failure is complete. 
Wherever there is any indication of success at all, it appears to have re- 
sulted from a lowering of standards to meet Will's performance level. 

There is, of course, a possibility that the company might have 
brought about some change in the family factor. However, this is outside 
the normal sphere of managerial influence, and the risks are extremely 
high. No one had any idea how family members might react to direct 
contact from the company. The best bet is that any implied criticism of 
Will would have aroused considerable resentment. Also, the prospect of 
bringing about any major change would appear slight. The situation had 
existed for many years, and it is reasonable to assume that it was deeply 
rooted in family relationships. Probably an attempt to discuss the matter 
directly with the family would have created more problems than it would 
have solved. In the writer's opinion it is wiser to restrict efforts to deal 
with cases such as this to the working environment. There are too many 
unknown factors within most family constellations to risk company in- 

It may be concluded, therefore, that dismissal was an appropriate 
solution in this instance. The chances of finding a satisfactory working 
situation within the company seem to have been almost infinitesimal. It 
is, however, hard to justify the tremendous investment in time and lost 
business that the company made in this man. What was done at the end 
of six and a half years could almost certainly have been done at the end 
of a year or a year and a half. Probably the risks would have been even 
less at an earlier date. "From the beginning it was apparent that the com- 
pany had not gained a particularly effective salesman." 

Case 4 


Frank Krasnosld, having worked for the company before, 
was given only a cursory screening in the personnel oflBce before being 
accepted. His previous employment record looked satisfactory, and there 
was a recommendation in the file indicating that his old boss would 
gladly rehire him. Furthermore, the labor market in the area was tight 
at the time due to the opening of several new plants. 

Actually, had it not been for these factors, the personnel man who 
interviewed him might well have raised some questions, Frank had left 
the company after two years as a machine operator to enlist for a hitch 
in the Navy. However, his application for reemployment indicated he had 
served for only a little over a year. Subsequently he had apparently en- 
tered the state university, but there was a period of approximately six 
months between his discharge and the time he started school which was 
unaccounted for on the application form. His exposure to higher educa- 
tion had apparently been brief. Within a year he had started on the first 
of a series of sales jobs ranging from door-to-door encyclopedia selling to 
work on a used car lot. In each instance Frank had noted the reason for 
termination as either "temporary position" or "layoff, insufficient work." 
There were sizable gaps between several of these periods of work. At no 
time during the preceding two years had he held a position for more 
than six months. 

In fact, during the brief employment interview, the question of why 
Frank was now applying for work at the plant did come up. He indicated 
only that he was fed up with selling, that he had found the work very un- 
pleasant and the people he worked with even more so. 


258 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Since his former foreman was still with the company and in addition 
was short several men, the obvious course was to reassign Frank to his 
old group. Within an hour after arriving at the personnel office, he was 
back in the shop. Some of the faces were, of course, new, but a surprising 
number were familiar. The foreman was glad to see the new addition to 
his group. He remembered him as a rather quiet young man, not much 
trouble to anyone, who kept largely to himself but nevertheless turned 
out quite satisfactory work. The only possible criticism might have been 
in the matter of speed. He never had been one to break any production 
records, although he seemed to work steadily enough. But this was prac- 
tically no criticism at all in comparison with some of the opinions the 
foreman had of the work being done by the new men who had started 
with him in the last six months. He was very happy indeed to see a man 
like Frank show up. 

However, by the end of the first day the foreman was not so sure of his 
feelings. Things were not working out as well as expected. Frank seemed 
strange. He had given no evidence of being pleased to be back with the 
old gang again. In fact, some of the older men had commented on the 
change in him. He seemed at times to be a completely different man. 
This was particularly true right after he had talked with some other mem- 
ber of the group. The foreman noticed that whenever one of these conver- 
sations ended, Frank would stand by his machine for a while staring off 
into space. Then finally he would smile to himself and slowly start to 
work. In addition, there were several times during the afternoon when 
he was away from his job for as long as a half hour. On each such occasion 
he was finally located in the men's room. He would emerge looking nau- 
seated and depressed. It was obvious to the foreman that he would have 
to have a long talk with his new man the next day. Something was really 

When work started in the morning, however, Frank was not there. The 
foreman waited about two hours and then called the personnel office. 
They had had no word either, but said they would check into the mat- 
ter. Shortly afterward the personnel man called back. They had contacted 
Frank's home and spoken with his mother. She said that he had an 
upset stomach and was very nervous. He just could not make it in to 
work. There was no indication why he had failed to call and notify his 
foreman. The mother would let them know tomorrow how he was com- 
ing along. 

The following morning the foreman received a call from her shortly 
after the work day started. Frank had gone to see the family doctor and 
had been advised that he needed a thorough rest. He would not be in to 
work for the rest of the week. The foreman obtained the doctor's name 
and address before hanging up. A call to the doctor yielded rather star- 

Machine Operator: Frank Krasnoski 259 

tling results: Mr. Krasnoski had not been in the oflSce in over two months. 
The foreman called Frank's home again and spoke with his mother. 
She said she was sorry to have provided incorrect information, but that it 
was her impression Frank was going to the doctor when he left the house. 
She would have him call the plant as soon as he got back. There was no 
further word during the rest of the day. 

That evening the foreman drove by the house on his way home, but 
it was dark, and he saw no point in stopping. The next morning the 
mother called again and said her son had applied for admission to the 
VA hospital and expected to be admitted in the next few days. The 
foreman asked to speak with him, but was told that would be impossible. 
Several questions regarding Frank's condition and the extent to which 
events of this nature had occurred in the past yielded evasive replies. 
Finally, the foreman decided that there was no alternative but to termi- 
nate employment as of that date. The mother raised a few objections, but 
seemed actually to be rather resigned to the idea that her son would lose 
his job. It was agreed that his check would be sent to his home. 

Performance Analysis 

Any analysis of Frank Krasnoski's performance is handi- 
capped by the paucity of the available data. Nevertheless, the general 
theme stands out clearly. This is not an unusual situation when an em- 
ployee suffers from an emotional disorder. As a result of the twin motives 
of family shame and individual anxiety, a screen is often created to keep 
the details of the breakdown from the man's employer. Yet the nature of 
the screen itself serves as a valuable guide in establishing the general char- 
acteristics of the process which is under way, even if a detailed diagnosis 
cannot be made. 

There is no evidence, even within the confines of a single day, that 
Frank lacked the intellectual requirements for his job. He had, in fact, 
performed the work satisfactorily for two years. In addition, his college 
attendance suggests at least average intelligence. On the other hand, 
the behavior exhibited during Frank's brief period on the job was of a 

260 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

kind which occurs frequently in emotional disorder. His actions were, to 
say the least, strange. Those who had known him prior to his entering 
the Navy felt the change and commented on how different he seemed. 
In fact, there is some possibility that he may have been experiencing vis- 
ual or auditory hallucinations during his periods of inactivity beside his 
machine. The indications are not conclusive. Many people stare off into 
space in this manner, although perhaps not so frequently or so consist- 
ently in response to social stimulation. 

The evidence for a severe emotional disorder extending back over sev- 
eral years, although somewhat circumstantial, is rather convincing. The 
premature discharge from naval service suggests some type of disability 
or perhaps disciplinary action. The ensuing six months are unaccounted 
for, but the possibility cannot be ignored that Frank's admission to a 
Veterans Administration hospital after his most recent employment was 
not his first admission. Unfortunately no check on the nature of his serv- 
ice discharge was made at the time of hiring, but there would seem to be 
a good possibility that he was discharged from service directly to a VA 
hospital. The period of educational and occupational instability which 
followed discharge, however, is typical of the pattern found among those 
suffering from a chronic psychotic condition. That Frank tried to es- 
tablish himself as a salesman is surprising, although the availability of 
employment may have been a factor. That he was a consistent failure and 
eventually became disillusioned with the work comes as no surprise. 
Withdrawal from social relationships and the development of distorted 
conceptions of others' motives are characteristic in psychoses with anxiety 
predominating, and this man appears to be suffering from a borderline 
condition of this kind, at the very least. It is not likely that an individual 
possessing such characteristics would be a successful salesman. 

The events following the single day of employment suggest either a 
recurrent disorder which was reactivated at the plant or, perhaps a grad- 
ual breakdown which was already under way before the rehiring. Frank's 
mother was obviously covering up something not only with regard to his 
past but also with regard to his present condition. It seems likely that he 
became much more severely disturbed after his day of work, and that 
his state was one with which his mother was familiar. She mentioned that 
he had become very nervous. The admission to a VA hospital could only 
have been for a physical or an emotional disorder. In view of the slender 
evidence which might support the former hypothesis, the latter tends to 
gain credence. 

Frank did, of course, have some physical symptoms. His nausea at the 
plant, and his mother's report of an upset stomach, indicate that a physi- 
cal factor did contribute to his absence from work and consequently to 
his performance failure. But the context in which these symptoms are 
found suggests strongly that they were of emotional origin. Physical dis- 

Machine Operator: Frank Krasnoski 261 

turbances of this type are not uncommon concomitants of more severe 
emotional pathology. Of course, they may also reflect an underlying stom- 
ach disorder having no relationship to emotional causation. But it is diffi- 
cult to account in purely physical terms for the other aspects of Frank's 
behavior and for his mother's evasive answers to questions. It seems likely 
that the nausea was part of the overall emotional pattern. 

Other factors appear to have had negligible impact. Motivation was 
not strategic. It was not that Frank did not want to work; he was appar- 
ently so overwhelmed by emotional and physical symptoms that he could 
not. Other than the stomach upset, there are no physical factors in evi- 
dence. Certainly the requisite muscular skills and dexterity must have 
been present, since he had previously performed satisfactorily in the 
same job. His fellow workers were generally favorably disposed toward 
Frank, at least those who had known him previously. The foreman was 
even more positive. He had considered the young man a definite asset 
during the previous period of employment and, in view of the current 
labor market conditions, was enthusiastic over the prospect of having 
him back. Nothing that happened at the group level during Frank's sin- 
gle day on the job seems adequate to account for his subsequent behavior. 
Similarly, everything we know about the family situation — and here our 
knowledge is limited to the mother — suggests an essentially positive influ- 
ence. Mrs. Krasnoski was evidently trying to help her son. Of course, there 
may have been family factors of which we are not aware. Probably deter- 
minants of this kind are more likely than most to go undetected. 

The organization contributed in the sense that there was a complete 
lack of action, presumably as a result of a prior investment decision. The 
foreman's dismissal of Frank appears to have been in accord with existing 
policy. Disability payments, psychiatric help, and special conditions of 
work were not to be provided. This is not surprising in view of the very 
brief period of employment and the high level of risk involved where the 
educational and occupational history is extremely unstable. To be of real 
value, any investment would have had to be a major one, and the time 
before a return on this investment might be realized was incalculable. 
Even in a tight labor market there are alternative, and probably more 
appropriate, methods of staffing an organization with hourly workers. 

There is also some question regarding the way in which Frank was 
hired. Although it is probably overstating the case to contend that he 
failed because he was hired in the first place, the screening procedures 
were extremely meager. There was much in the man's history since leav- 
ing the firm to suggest emotional instability. Even his replies to questions 
during the brief interview seem to indicate problems in this area. Yet no 
real check on the man was made. The fact that once, at some time in the 
past, an individual is known to have performed effectively provides no 
proof that he is still capable of the same behavior. 

262 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Cultural values do not appear to be involved, but there may have been 
a situational factor. It is almost impossible to tell from the information 
available. Returning to the shop may have served to trigger an emotional 
breakdwn, or it may have accelerated an ongoing process. It seems prob- 
able that Frank had su£Fered from emotional disorder off and on ever 
since his naval service. 

Exposure to the work situation could well have reactivated symptoms 
which had been quiescent for some time. On the other hand, the emo- 
tional disturbance might have been building up over a period of several 
months. It may have been no more than coincidence that things came to 
a head during this particular day. In fact, it is entirely possible that Frank 
was acutely ill when he walked in the door of the employment office. The 
screening process was not sufficiently comprehensive to rule out this ex- 
planation. It would be impossible to say whether environmental factors 
at work were in fact strategic, without more information than the fore- 
man possessed. 

Although three factors emerge as strategic, all are interrelated. The 
physical symptom was not sufficient in and of itself to account for the 
failure; therefore, purely medical treatment would not have been suffi- 
cient. Also, the stomach disorder would probably have been most effec- 
tively cured if handled as part of the emotional problem. Perhaps this 
man could have been restored to an effective performance level eventu- 
ally, had the company been willing to wait and subsequently help him 
to readjust. As in all cases of this kind, it is impossible to say with cer- 
tainty. The action taken by the foreman in discharging Frank should not 
be considered as an individual, unilateral act, however. It was carried out 
in a context of company policy. The man had failed to report an illness 
which kept him from work, he had failed to provide information on his 
illness, and he had at least an instrumental role in a false report regard- 
ing a medical opinion of his case. Purely on a disciplinary basis there is 
sufficient reason for discharge. In addition, the man had worked only one 
day and was apparently going to be absent from his job for an extended 
period. Under the circumstances there would appear to be little a man- 
ager could do but resort to dismissal. 

Even from a humanitarian viewpoint there was little reason for the 
company to become involved in Frank's case. He had been accepted for 
admission to a VA hospital and would receive adequate treatment there. 
In cases involving severe psychosis of the type apparently existing here, 
community action seems most appropriate. The probability of a perma- 
nent and total cure within a reasonable period of time is sufficiently low 
so that it is inappropriate to expect an organization with primarily eco- 
nomic goals to invest in the rehabilitation process. Should Frank be- 
come capable of effective performance once again at some later date, he 
could, of course, apply to the company for reemployment. 

Case 5 


Edward Kaplan had a number of job oflFers when he grad- 
uated from college in spite of the fact that his major, anthropology, hardly 
fitted him for a specific position in business. His background was, how- 
ever, attractive in many ways. He had lived in various parts of the world 
when his father was shifted from one assignment to another, and as a re- 
sult he spoke several languages fluently. His education before college 
had included two years at one of the best Eastern preparatory schools 
and his marks throughout were good. In the end he accepted one of the 
less lucrative opportunities, a fact which rather surprised his roommate. 
It eventually became known, however, that his father had joined this 
particular company as a vice-president three years before. The company 
operated a number of retail stores spread over a large portion of the 
United States. Ed was to start in the training program for store managers. 
He made it clear, when his father's connection with the company became 
known to his friends, that he was going to work his way up from the 
bottom without any help from anyone and that someday he would be 
sitting where his father was now. 

Initially, however, he seemed to be off on the wrong foot. His super- 
visor in the training program was very critical. The young man lacked a 
sense of responsibihty. He was good at telling others what to do, but 
when his turn came nothing was accomplished. Also, he seemed very slow 
to learn, a fact which seemed surprising in view of his college record and 
known high level of intelligence. Things just did not stick with him, es- 
pecially the specific procedures that the company followed in filing or- 
ders, personnel reports, and the like. He made a number of mistakes, 


264 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

and the supervisor did not hesitate to tell him about them. Ed was some- 
what cowed by all this and he showed it. Things were not working out 
as he had planned and he thought several times of quitting. At college he 
had been considered something of an eccentric but was nevertheless pop- 
ular. His escapades had attracted considerable attention. Here he was a 
nothing, and not even very good at that. 

The supervisor thought Ed would leave. He might be related to a 
vice-president, but he had not inherited much aggressiveness. The boy 
looked like a quitter. He was immature, almost childish on occasion — 
anything to get attention. Yet in the end these very characteristics kept 
Ed going. As the supervisor thought about it after the boy had moved 
on to his first permanent assignment, he saw that things had reached a 
point where quitting was out of the question. A man like that, once he 
realizes people expect him to do one thing, has to do just the opposite to 
prove how little they know. Edward Kaplan was obviously the kind who 
is always trying to show that he knows more and is smarter than anyone 
else, especially his superiors. He certainly would bear watching. 

Surprisingly enough, the reports that came back from the new, and for 
that particular company, rather large store where he went to work were 
quite good. He shifted from one department to another, learning the vari- 
ous aspects of the business and the problems. There were times when he 
was a little remiss in following procedures and in telling his supervisors 
about things of which they should have been notified, but he did work 
hard. The consensus was that he was maturing rapidly and that his 
diflBculty during the initial period should not be taken too seriously. 
Only his original training supervisor remained in doubt. Luckily for Ed, 
that supervisor was not consulted when he was considered for, and given, 
his first promotion to a managerial position. 

Things continued to go well. The young man obviously felt he was get- 
ting somewhere. In fact, he seemed to consider himself something of a 
fair-haired boy who was about to break all records for progress in the 
company. This made for several rather unpleasant episodes involving Ed 
and one of his associates at the same level. However, his superiors tended 
to condone his brashness, feeling it was much better than the lack of 
aggressiveness which he had exhibited during the early months of his 
career with the company. Also, he seemed to get much more done now 
that he had this sense of self-importance. It was not long before he was 
promoted to be assistant manager of one of the smaller stores. 

During this period Ed had had practically nothing to do with his fa- 
ther. He never said anything about him, and by common consent the 
subject was avoided. They lived far apart in different cities, and there was 
no particular reason for the relationship to be mentioned. Contact with 
his parents was almost nonexistent, even when he got married. Word of 

Store Manager: Edward Kaplan 265 

their son*s marriage came to the parents only about two weeks after the 
event as a result of a letter from his new wife. The general feeling among 
those who knew him well was that young Ed Kaplan was a little odd 
when it came to matters concerning his father. It was almost as if he 
did not want to admit that a man named Tom Kaplan worked for the 
company, or maybe even that such a person existed at all. 

Rather unfortunately, a similar relationship, or lack of relationship, 
rapidly developed between the new assistant manager and his boss. The 
two rarely spoke to each other except on matters directly associated with 
running the store. Nevertheless, the store manager was impressed with 
his new assistant and recommended a sizable raise at the end of Ed's first 
year. The accompanying comment read, "This man is developing rapidly. 
He works hard and expects his subordinates to do the same. A very high 
type of person in every respect." 

Over the next few years Ed continued to do well. The only difficulties 
arose when the manager was away on vacation or absent for some other 
reason. Then there was usually a long delay before the regular reports on 
the store's operation arrived at the central office. In the meantime there 
had often been a good deal of telephoning and memo writing. But the 
reports always did arrive finally, and the store maintained a steady in- 
crease in the volume of business. There was no basis for more than the 
most superficial criticism. Ed was, however, rather young and even after 
several ye^rs in this job was not considered ready to run a store on his 
own. Promotions to store manager did not occur every day. 

Nevertheless, it was not long before Ed Kaplan took over as one of the 
youngest store managers in the company. It all happened very suddenly. 
Ed was attending a meeting at the central office for his area. While there, 
he went in to talk to the general manager. He asked to be put in charge of 
a store. The manager was initially both shocked and skeptical. No one 
had ever just walked in and asked for a promotion of that kind before. 
Yet as the discussion progressed, this initial reaction began to shift. It was 
not so much what Ed said, although after he recovered from his surprise 
the manager did rather like the young man's brashness and courage. The 
major factor was the possibility that old Tom Kaplan might well be very 
pleased to see his son move up so fast. True, father and son were not very 
close, and certainly Tom had never in any way attempted to influence his 
son's career in the company. But, any parent would have to be proud of 
his boy's success, and the person responsible for recognizing that the son 
was a chip off the old block might well be rewarded in some way. Ed left 
the office with an assurance that he would be promoted, but that it would 
take a few days to work out his exact placement. 

Within ten days word arrived that he was to become manager of a small 
store in a city located near a rather large mining operation. Unfortunately 

266 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

for the whole area, however, the mines were now producing only a frac- 
tion of what they had previously, and there was considerable unemploy- 
ment. There had, in fact, been some talk recently about shutting the store 
down. The company and several competitors all had opened stores in the 
city during a more prosperous period. Now the volume of business was 
down for everyone, and the major argument for keeping the stores open 
was the prospect that new employers might move into the area. The com- 
pany did not expect its store to show a gain in sales. Under present con- 
ditions maintaining a constant sales record would be quite satisfactory. 
To do this would require a gain in percentage of the market, since the 
total of business available to the company and its competitors was shrink- 
ing. Perhaps some continued loss in volume would have to be tolerated for 
a while. 

Ed was given this particular assignment as a result of an unusual set of 
circumstances. The manager, having already committed himself on the 
promotion, checked with personnel and was told that young Kaplan 
could not be recommended for advancement at this time. There were 
too many good men with a much longer period of company service than 
he. This largely ended any discussion with the personnel people, and the 
manager continued his arrangements without further reference to per- 
sonnel or the employment history of the man he was trying to place. It 
was clear that no present store manager could be removed in order to 
make an opening. That would only have produced more trouble in a 
situation that had already become rather difficult. The one possibility 
was the store in the mining area. The manager there had just retired and 
an opening did exist. The problem was that the assistant manager of the 
store had been sent there a year before with every expectation that he 
would take over when the older man retired. Ed was put in charge in- 
stead, and the assistant manager remained as assistant manager. Clearly 
Ed Kaplan was not moving into an easy situation, but perhaps a brash 
young man of his temperament was exactly what was required under the 

Ed was elated when he learned where he was to be sent. Here was a 
real opportunity to show what he could do. He fully expected to reverse 
the trend of the last few years and, within a year at the most, have the 
volume of sales on the way up again. He knew about the depressed con- 
ditions in the area and he knew his competitors were trying to increase 
their share of the market, but on the other hand the previous manager 
had been an old man on the verge of retirement. A younger person like 
himself with some initiative should be able to make a reputation for him- 

It was not that easy. The assistant manager, as everyone expected, was 
displeased at having been passed over, and he showed it. He did his job. 

Store Manager: Edward Kaplan 267 

but his presence made Ed acutely uncomfortable. It would have been 
easier if he could have been fired, but he was obviously far too compe- 
tent for that. In fact, in his weaker moments Ed often thought his assist- 
ant was far more qualified to run the store than the man who was doing 
it. Thoughts like that were terribly disconcerting for a man like Edward 

The trouble was that things were obviously not going well, according 
to the store manager's standards. The decline in sales continued at about 
the same rate as before in spite of every effort to reverse the trend. No- 
body else was surprised at this and certainly no one was critical. People 
in the area were not earning enough to permit things to be otherwise. In 
addition, one of the competitive stores had recently been modernized, 
and another had been taken over by a company which was known for its 
frequent sales and discounted prices. It was clear that this company was 
trying to drive the competition out of town. It had already increased its 
share of the market to some extent, although probably this had been ac- 
complished by running the store at a loss. 

Ed became quieter and quieter. He could see his dream of outstand- 
ing success disintegrating, and there was little he could do about it. He 
was no longer a shining light in the company, just another store manager. 
He could not cut prices any lower under company policy, and if he did 
not get them down to a competitive level in a town where people had 
plenty of time to shop for bargains and little money to pay for luxuries, 
there was no chance of increasing sales. For him it was not enough to do 
the best job possible under the circumstances. 

By the end of the first year Ed was totally cowed. He felt that he had 
failed. His dream had gone. Personal effort and hard work would not re- 
verse the situation. This town had beaten him. He was very touchy, and 
his subordinates preferred to avoid him, since his moods were unpre- 
dictable. Much of the time he was excessively sarcastic. The reports again 
became a problem and this, combined with several other things, finally 
started management at the central office wondering. Ed was stocking 
some items in excessive quantity even though they did not sell. The turn- 
over rate for store personnel was very high, whereas in the past it had been 
low, presumably because of the widespread unemployment in the area. 
The assistant manager asked to be transferred to another store, as an as- 
sistant manager, if necessary. The store manager was using poor judg- 
ment in a number of respects. Worst of all, he had lost the aggressive 
brashness that had in the past appeared to be his greatest asset. He 
seemed like a different man. He was at times vindictive and demanding, 
more often sullen and morose, and occasionally happy and elated if he 
proved to be right about something. But he accomplished less and less. 
The store began to lose customers to its competitors in large numbers. 

268 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Ed did litde to rectify the situation other than to tell his subordinates 
that it was their job to find a solution. 

Finally, before his superiors could act, he asked to be replaced in his 
job and given a leave of absence to work out his problems. He implied 
that he was too upset to continue where he was and that he had to get 
away from the situation immediately. Two months later, while still on 
leave, he resigned from the company to accept a position as a salesman 
with another firm. 

Performance Analysis 

Although Edward Kaplan was rather slow to learn dur- 
ing the period of his initial training, this cannot be accounted for in terms 
of any basic intellectual deficiency. He was a college graduate, had good 
marks in school, and was known to have a high level of intelli- 
gence. Furthermore, he did subsequently overcome these early difiicul- 
ties and move on to similar positions with the company in which he per- 
formed very effectively. There is no doubt that he knew how to do the 
work. Yet at the time of his later failure, Ed consistently used very poor 
judgment in carrying out his job duties. He stocked certain items in ex- 
cessive quantity, presumably in a desperate hope that he could sell them, 
and made some unfortunate decisions in handling his employees. This 
was in spite of the fact that he had previously, under somewhat different 
circumstances, performed satisfactorily in the same areas. 

The explanation appears to be that when he became suflBciently up- 
set, his emotions tended to interfere with his decisions. Although emo- 
tional disturbances were evident to some extent throughout the period 
of employment, there were only two times when problems of this kind 
became acute. During both these periods, intellectual deficiencies also 
emerged. As a trainee Ed was slow to learn and made many mistakes. He 
also appeared cowed and upset. His emotional reactions were childish, 
and there was an underlying element of sullen negativism in his behavior. 
Yet, on this occasion he overcame his problems and did not fail. 

Later in the mining area, however, his intellectual inadequacies were 

Store Manager: Edward Kaplan 269 

coupled with more severe emotional reactions. He became upset and de- 
pressed. He was convinced that he was not capable of handling his job 
and that his assistant was more competent than he. Again, as during his 
training, he was cowed by events. He was moody and sarcastic; vindic- 
tive, sullen, and morose. Ed's emotional outbursts obviously antagonized 
his employees and contributed to the high turnover rate. Unable to con- 
trol his emotions, he permitted them to interfere directly with his per- 
formance as a manager. 

During the last few months of employment these emotional problems 
were intertwined with motivational factors. Young Ed Kaplan was very 
ambitious. He reacted to the taste of success with pleasure and maximum 
e£Fort. When he expected to get ahead, he was enthusiastic and worked 
hard. He took the unusual step of asking to be made a store manager and 
appeared to relish the opportunity in being assigned to a depressed area 
where he might show what he could do. There is some suggestion, from 
his reaction to the original training supervisor, that he had an intense de- 
sire to prove himself superior to other people, especially to those above 
him in the company. In any event, his standards were extremely high. 
Success meant moving ahead very rapidly and achieving an increase in 
sales where no one else considered it possible. 

Unfortunately, when Ed's hopes of obtaining the pleasure he antici- 
pated in success began to fade, he reacted with emotional outbursts, bit- 
terness, and resignation. Unable to achieve the unrealistically high stand- 
ards he had set for himself, he experienced a sharp frustration of one of 
his dominant motives. His dream gone and his personal ambitions 
blocked, he gave up. His behavior changed completely. Instead of at- 
tempting to solve his problems, which eventually became real enough, 
even by company standards, he shifted them to his subordinates. Finally 
he left his job entirely, indicating that he was too disturbed to continue. 
In essence, he responded to frustration as his supervisor in the training 
program had feared he might: He quit. 

There is reason to believe that Ed established the standards which 
eventually contributed to his downfall for reasons connected with his 
relationship to his father. Since the starting salary was not particularly 
good, it seems almost certain that he joined the company because of Tom 
Kaplan. Yet he had practically nothing to do with his father and made no 
eflFort to capitalize on the fact that he was related to a vice-president. It 
seems probable, therefore, that in making this occupational choice he 
was not attempting to obtain any special advantage — in spite of the sub- 
sequent course of events and the actions of the general manager. 

Much more likely is the conclusion that he actually wanted to compete 
with his father and picked the company in order to do so. His words to 
his friends at college seem particularly significant. "He was going to work 

270 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

his way up from the bottom without any help from anyone . . . someday 
he would be sitting where his father was now." This kind of motivation 
is not uncommon. Also, it is consistent with the pattern of intense ambi- 
tion and unrealistically high standards which Ed e\dnced. If the young 
man was to outdo his father, he clearly had to accomplish a great deal 
very rapidly. 

In spite of the apparent role of parental factors in this motivation, there 
is nothing to suggest that the family was actually strategic. Tom Kaplan 
did nothing to contribute to his son's failure, nor did any other family 
member. Presumably, Ed had been competing with his father for years. 
This would account for his attempt to avoid contact and his rather 
strange behavior toward his father — the failure to talk about him and to 
notify him regarding the marriage, among other things. Probably Ed felt 
somewhat guilty about his desire to surpass his parent: particularly so if 
he had been tempted to resort to cutthroat techniques on occasion. Yet 
this pattern had presumably existed during periods of success and during 

Throughout the period of employment the young man had a series of 
conflicts with immediate group members. He was never particularly 
popular. All this seems to have mattered little insofar as his work was con- 
cerned, however. As a very successful assistant store manager, he main- 
tained a relationship with his boss which was comparable to that with 
his father. Earlier, he had had trouble with his supervisor during training 
and with one of his associates after being promoted to his first manage- 
ment position. At the store in the mining area there were numerous prob- 
lems with his assistant manager, problems which eventually led the junior 
man to request a transfer. Yet, except for the last instance, these group 
factors do not seem to have aflFected Ed at all. Even then, if business had 
been good and the store had been operating at a profit, there is little like- 
lihood that he would have been bothered by the difficulties with his as- 
sistant manager. Edward Kaplan appears to have had a striking capacity 
to shrug off unpleasant relationships with other people, whether involving 
his father, his superiors, his fellow managers, or his subordinates. His de- 
sire for success was much stronger than his wish to be liked. Thus, he was 
relatively invulnerable to many types of group influence. 

The decision to place Ed in the particular position was, of course, a 
contributory factor. The general manager made the assignment without 
extended consideration of the employment history and against the advice 
of the personnel department. The reservations of the training program 
supervisor were not taken into account. In fact, a major factor in the de- 
cision had nothing to do with the young man's potential level of effective- 
ness at all: The general manager hoped to enhance his own position with 
Ed's father. This, of course, did not guarantee that the placement would 

Store Manager: Edward Kaplan 271 

be erroneous, but when such extraneous factors are involved, the chances 
of success are reduced. In this case a mistake was made. The man was 
emotionally and motivationally too immature for the assignment. This 
is not to say he could not have performed effectively as a store manager 
under appropriate circumstances; in a more favorable environment he 
might well have done very well. 

But Ed was assigned to a job, and to a situation, which in combination 
were strategic for failure. He had to be outstandingly successful, and in 
this particular context it was impossible. Economic forces in the situation 
thus combined with an incorrect placement decision and an existing moti- 
vational pattern to produce a major personality change, which brought 
with it considerable emotional and intellectual disturbance. The strategic 
economic factors were those usually found in a depressed economic area. 
The mines were not working, and therefore unemployment was high and 
purchasing power low. In addition, competing firms were employing 
tactics which further accentuated the detrimental aspects of the en- 
vironment. One such store had been completely modernized, and another 
was cutting prices drastically in order to force other firms out of business. 
It would have been impossible to achieve sizable profits and a major 
increase in market share; yet Ed felt he had to do just that. When it be- 
came obvious even to him that his goal was impossible, he gave up and 
subsequently fell below company standards. The situation had beaten 
him. He became a casualty of economic warfare. 

The two remaining areas do not require much discussion. Physical fac- 
tors were obviously not involved. The job of a store manager does not 
make major demands of this kind and no physical symptoms, not even of 
emotional origin, were in evidence. Society and its values do not appear 
to have had an influence either. Ed's motivation was a personal matter, 
apparently associated with his feelings toward his father. 

Since the intellectual, emotional, and motivational aspects of this case 
are interrelated, any action initiated to deal with one would have to take 
the others into account. An improvement in the intellectual sphere, for 
instance, would have to be achieved through some change in tlie emo- 
tional area. Yet the emotional reactions were precipitated primarily as 
a result of existing motivational patterns. Furthermore, there is reason to 
suspect that Ed's emotional problems were actually somewhat more 
severe than his behavior on the job would suggest. When a man suddenly 
takes a leave of absence because he is too upset to continue work and 
then resigns a good management position to accept a job as a salesman, 
there is every reason to believe that he is emotionally ill. Probably a great 
many symptoms which did not manifest themselves at work were in fact 

Without knowledge of these any diagnosis is difficult, but from the 

272 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

evidence we have it would appear that Edward Kaplan suffered from a 
neurosis with depression and guilt predominating. If this is correct, then 
there is a good chance that he would benefit from psychotherapy. Treat- 
ment should produce a change in the dominance relationshps within his 
motivational hierarchy and a readjustment of work standards. As a re- 
sult, Ed could eventually achieve the capacity to adapt to situational 
changes which he clearly lacked at the time of his failure. 

Of course, it is not known whether Ed would have accepted a sugges- 
tion that he might benefit from psychotherapy. In view of the young man's 
obvious potential and previous performance record, however, it would 
seem that some such effort to retain him and to restore an effective level 
of work should have been made. This effort would presumably have had 
to include something more than psychotherapy, because treatment of this 
kind requires considerable time before the attempts to induce personality 
change can take effect. Since the failure was acute and the man's condi- 
tion deteriorating rapidly, some action should have been taken immedi- 
ately to correct the placement error and to remove him from the situa- 
tional forces which were instrumental to his collapse. Ed, of course, finally 
did this himself in his own way. But it was not a way which offered the 
possibility of returning him to an effective level within the company. 

If action had been taken quickly enough, he probably could have been 
transferred to another store where the potentialities for success were bet- 
ter. Obviously, to put him in charge of a location imder existing circum- 
stances would have been out of the question. But he could have been 
made an assistant manager once again in a store somewhat larger than 
the one he left to go to the mining area. 

Making a transfer at times such as this is always a delicate matter, but 
it can be accomplished. Probably Ed should have been told quite frankly 
that his promotion had been a mistake and that he was not ready for that 
level of responsibility yet. At the same time an effort could have been 
made to convey the impression that his superiors still had faith in him 
and expected much of him in the future. If the young man's failure had 
been presented to him as a temporary reversal, necessitating certain 
changes, rather than as a complete failure, it is doubtful that he would 
have sought employment elsewhere. Also, tying the matter of psycho- 
therapy in with the possibility of future occupational success might well 
have provided the motivation needed to make Ed seek treatment. This 
seems entirely appropriate, since with some help in overcoming his per- 
sonality diflBculties, he would in fact appear to have considerable poten- 
tial for high-level achievement. 

Case 6 


James Wicks had his initial discussions with representatives 
of the company several months before he finished his dissertation and 
actually obtained his doctorate. He was given a considerable amount of in- 
formation, and the work in the research and development department was 
made to appear as attractive as possible. Qualified chemists were hard to 
find, and the company needed them badly if the expanded research ef- 
fort recently decided on by the board of directors was to become a real- 
ity. Jim seemed a particularly desirable prospect because the man under 
whom he was doing his dissertation was well known for his work on cer- 
tain organic compounds. There was some possibility that the company 
ought to get into this particular area on a large scale, and one of the best 
ways to find out was to hire the professor's most recent Ph.D. 

Accordingly every possible inducement was offered. The salary was 
good, somewhat above the usual starting rate for men with a doctoral 
degree. Jim would be encouraged to carry out original research, much 
of it in areas related to his dissertation. In addition, there had recently 
been considerable discussion in the department about freeing all research 
people for 10 to 20 percent of their time in order to permit them to devote 
several days a month to their own research interests. The personnel re- 
cruiter was sure this policy would be approved and in fact, when pressed, 
guaranteed as much. The company was going to put considerable money 
into expanding the research effort. Several positions of the senior research- 
scientist type would be created and used to attract people with national 
reputations to the research and development department. There was every 
reason to believe the board would approve the construction of a new and 


274 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

separate research center. The recruiter had seen some of the architect's 
drawings, and there was no question that this center would provide the 
most up-to-date research facihties in the industry. 

Jim was clearly impressed by the prospect of joining a growing research 
eflFort and by the inducements held out to him. He wanted to follow up 
on some of the leads developed by his research at the university, and this 
appeared an ideal place to do it. All the people he had talked with from 
the company seemed sincere and honestly interested in research. They 
appeared to be the kind of people who would stick by their promises 
and treat others fairly. That was important, and when he wrote his letter 
accepting the company's oflFer, he emphasized that it was a major factor 
in his decision. 

In many respects, however, the company and the job did not live up to 
expectations. The fact that several months elapsed between the hiring 
date and the time Jim actually began work may have been a factor. So too 
may overzealous recruiting. In any event, by the end of the first week Jim 
was roaring mad. He would have quit right then had he not just moved 
his family halfway across the country and bought a new house. Also, he 
admitted that the company had invested a good deal of money in him by 
paying his moving expenses and that he had, as a result of the com- 
pany's influence with a local bank, obtained favorable mortgage terms. It 
did not seem fair to walk out without giving the situation at least a few 
months to improve. 

The company was having considerable difficulty in recruiting new per- 
sonnel and otherwise expanding the research department. Three senior- 
scientist positions had been created, but filling them had proved to be 
much more of a problem than anticipated. As of the time Jim joined the 
company, no top-flight people had been attracted. This represented a real 
disappointment to a young man who had been looking forward to work- 
ing with an experienced industrial research man of national stature. In 
fact, one of the senior-scientist positions had finally been filled from 
within. The man appointed had occupied a relatively high-level manage- 
ment position within the research and development department for a 
number of years and was generally considered a poor administrator. In 
Jim's opinion the man's scientific competence had been artificially inflated 
in order to justify moving him to a position without managerial respon- 
sibility. Jim had no compunction about making this opinion known. To a 
young scientist, such behavior on the part of an organization repre- 
sented a perversion of the whole scientific value system. A man had to 
earn a reputation as an outstanding scientist through important research 
contributions; you did not just create such a designation for him over- 

The difficulty in expanding the department had other negative impli- 

Research Chemist: James Wicks 275 

cations. Jim was initially assigned to a development group consisting 
primarily of chemical engineers. The project they were working on was 
of considerable importance to the company and had to be completed as 
quickly as possible. As a result all new men with appropriate qualifications 
were to be assigned to the group. The work involved application prob- 
lems and was far removed from the kind of basic research in organic com- 
pounds that Jim had anticipated continuing. When he complained, he 
was told that because of personnel shortages it had seemed inadvisable 
to open up new research areas at the present time. Consequently some of 
the more basic programs had been temporarily shelved. He would of 
course be removed from the development work as soon as it could pos- 
sibly be accomplished — in a year at the very longest. The young scientist, 
when he heard this, went so far as to use the term "liar" in describing 
one of the people with whom he had talked at the time of his hiring. He 
was furious and did not hesitate to say so. 

After several weeks had elapsed, he came to realize that in addition to 
being deprived of the opportunity to work with outstanding scientists on 
problems related to his own interests, he had also lost the free time to 
carry out his own research. He brought the matter up during a discus- 
sion with his supervisor, assuming that the policy had not yet been put 
into effect in his case because he was a new man. He then learned that 
although the idea had been accepted as department policy, each supervi- 
sor had been given discretionary power in its implementation. This meant 
that the supervisor could allocate up to one day every two weeks for per- 
sonal research if he so desired. In actual fact no supervisor in the whole 
department had as yet done so. The pressure from top management to 
complete existing projects was so strong that no one wanted to risk in- 
itiating any procedure that might subvert this objective. Actually there 
was very little likelihood that the policy would ever be put into effect in 
development groups such as the one in which Jim now found himself. 
Finally, after an hour of heated debate, the two men agreed that policy 
could not be broken just to accommodate one man. The supervisor was 
frankly sorry about the whole mess, but there was very little he could do. 

It was in fact almost eighteen months before Jim was moved into the 
type of research position for which he had been hired. There had been 
innumerable delays on the development project, and a man with his ex- 
perience could not be released until it was terminated. He had com- 
plained to personnel and to some high-level people within the research 
and development department, but without success. During this period a 
number of people in both these groups had come to the conclusion that 
he was not entirely loyal to the company. They considered him lacking 
in tact and uncooperative. A similar opinion was held by some of the en- 
gineers with whom he worked. 

276 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Others, however, felt that, for whatever reason, the company had given 
him a bad deal and that he was justified in being angry. They pointed 
out that his bitterness was largely restricted to the matter of broken prom- 
ises and that actually he had not hurt the company in any way. Perhaps 
he had helped it by pointing out some deficiencies. Unfortunately for 
Jim, the more negative viewpoint predominated in the personnel depart- 
ment, especially among the recruiters, and at the top levels of his own 
department. Nevertheless, he was considered a first-class research man 
and was given several salary increases based on merit. It was in many 
respects due to his efforts that the development project was completed 
as quickly as it was. 

Shortly after moving into the organic-chemicals research group, he 
put in a request for a restudy of his job, contending that it had been rated 
too low and that he was being underpaid. There was considerable objec- 
tion, especially within certain segments of the personnel department, but 
finally the restudy was initiated. Many were convinced that this was no 
more than another instance of contentiousness and that the job analysis 
was being carried out only because the young scientist could yell louder 
and bang the table harder than anyone else. Nevertheless, it was found, 
as he said, that his work was relatively free of direction by higher-level 
supervision and that the job grade should be raised. He was being paid 
at a rate below that to which his job entitled him. 

Exactly a year later, he again requested a job study, maintaining that 
his work had changed sufficiently since the previous study to require a 
new evaluation. This time he got the restudy without delay. With his 
prior record of success in this area, it seemed inappropriate to contest his 
claim. But he also got something else. At the suggestion of the personnel 
department, a special appraisal panel was constituted to look into 
James Wicks's performance during his years with the company. This 
panel worked with considerable speed and very shortly produced its re- 

There was no question about his technical competence. He was thor- 
oughly conversant with the work in his field and was apparently making 
good progress in his research. His efforts had not been directed toward 
solving problems growing out of his dissertation, although recently he 
had been devoting his free day each month to this area. This failure to 
follow the course originally planned was, however, a result of certain 
misunderstandings and policy changes within the department. The scien- 
tist himself was not responsible. 

On the other hand, there was a definite personahty problem. He over- 
evaluated his own importance to the organization and as a consequence 
demanded excessive attention from his superiors and from members of 
other departments. He lacked flexibility, did not have the capacity to 

Research Chemist: James Wicks 277 

understand the viewpoint of others, and could not accept criticism grace- 
fully. Problems were created by virtue of the fact that many people did 
not like to work with him. This was, however, less in evidence in his pres- 
ent job than it had been previously. He was sometimes sarcastic, demand- 
ing, and excessively aggressive. His self-righteous attitude was particularly 
irritating to others. Furthermore, he had made some statements which 
suggested that he might prove disloyal to the company. This was particu- 
larly serious in a research man. 

Once he had mentioned, in arguing for a research project, that a com- 
peting company would, he knew, be very happy to push work in that 
particular area. On another occasion he had been very critical of the way 
in which company personnel were assigned to research activities, and he 
had contrasted this approach, or lack of one, with the system used by an- 
other firm in the industry. His opinions regarding company personnel 
policy were by now almost legendary. All in all, he did not appear to be 
the type to whom the company should entrust knowledge of potentially 
patentable research discoveries. His behavior was such as to lead to the 
inescapable conclusion that he was antagonistic to the company's objec- 
tives and could not be trusted in his present work. 

Within a week of the time this report was completed Jim was demoted 
and transferred to a position in the quality control division. He remained 
in this position under the jurisdiction of the manufacturing department 
until September, when he left without notice to accept a teaching posi- 
tion at a major university. Shortly after he had been moved from the re- 
search and development department, his former job was raised another 
grade level as a result of the restudy which he had requested. 

Performance Analysis 

Although the job of research chemist requires high levels of 
ability in several areas and extensive training, there is no reason to believe 
that James Wicks was lacking in any of these respects. He had a Ph.D. 
from a good university and had worked under one of the top men in his 
field. He was generally considered very competent technically by all who 

278 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

knew his work, including the members of the special appraisal panel con- 
vened to evaluate his performance. Also, failure did not occur in such di- 
mensions as quality, quantity, or presence on the job. Jim was considered 
entirely satisfactory in these areas. His difficulties developed in relation to 
the fourth dimension of performance and concerned such matters as 
loyalty to the company and cooperation with others. Problems of this 
kind are unlikely to be caused by intellectual factors. 

Emotional factors, on the other hand, can easily contribute to this type 
of failure, and in this instance they unquestionably did. Jim became angry 
frequently, and he made Kttle effort to suppress his feelings. One such 
blowup had already occurred by the end of his first week with the com- 
pany. At that time he threatened to quit, but was talked out of doing so. 
Later he became angered by the way in which a senior-scientist position 
had been filled, and he expressed his opinions freely. He was furious over 
his initial placement and even went so far as to apply the term liar to at 
least one man with whom he had talked prior to being hired. There 
was a lengthy and heated argument with his boss over the matter of per- 
sonal research time. He complained on numerous occasions to managers 
at high levels in the research and development department and to people 
in personnel about a variety of things that troubled him. He was often 
bitter and sarcastic. His contentiousness was particularly evident in con- 
nection with the continuing battle over the appropriate grade and pay 
scale for his job. 

As a result of this aggressiveness, many of Jim's superiors considered 
him lacking in tact and uncooperative. It was said that he had a person- 
ality problem, that he was unable or unwilling to understand the views of 
others, and that he did not know how to accept criticism. He was irritat- 
ing to other people, and as a result they did not want to work with him. 
He was sarcastic, demanding, and unnecessarily aggressive. In short, he 
was considered a troublemaker and an agitator who had a disruptive in- 
fluence on the work of others in the department. Furthermore, there 
were many who believed him disloyal because of his tendency to speak 
favorably of procedures employed in other firms and to use them as ex- 
amples when arguing for programs which he supported. His frequent 
derogatory comments regarding the accomplishments and approaches 
of his own company led to the conclusion that he was antagonistic to its 
goals and a poor security risk. 

There seem to have been no particular difficulties in connection with 
Jim's personal motivation or in the physical area. His anger was aroused 
by the frustration of strong motives, but these appear to have had their 
origins in cultural rather than individual causes. Except for this value 
problem, which will be taken up in greater detail shortly, there is no in- 
dication that motivation was strategic. Jim's efforts were instrumental to 

Research Chemist: James Wicks 279 

the final completion of the development project. He worked hard, was 
making good progress in his research, and had received several merit in- 
creases. Similarly, physical factors are not in evidence. The failure is not 
of a kind which suggests causation of this type. 

Practically nothing is known about Jim's family, so that it is impossible 
to make a definite statement in this area. Nevertheless, all the problems 
which arose can be adequately explained in terms of other known factors. 
Although family events could have contributed to the frequent emotional 
outbursts, it is doubtful that they were a major cause. Group factors 
within the company appear to be absent, also. Jim's boss on the develop- 
ment project did refuse to give him the personal research time he had 
been promised, thus provoking an angry reaction, but this decision was 
not really made at the group level. Pressure from higher management was 
primarily responsible. Forces outside the immediate group were also 
involved in the other episodes. In general, it was some action taken or 
not taken by higher-level management or by people in the personnel area 
that caused Jim to become angry, not the behavior of a fellow group 
member. There was apparently some conflict with several of the engi- 
neers on the development project, but this does not appear to be strategic. 
Jim's greatest problems were not with people at his own level in the de- 
partment. Also, at the time he was formally defined as ineffective by the 
appraisal panel, he was working on research and apparently getting along 
quite well with the other chemists. 

From the discussion so far, it is evident that the company had a major 
role in Jim's failure. There were at least three strategic factors in the or- 
ganizational area. Most striking was the lack of action on the part of the 
company in areas where action was clearly intended. In this instance the 
failure was not an inevitable consequence of an investment decision. 
It happened because there was little relationship between planning and 
the subsequent course of events. The plans unfortunately formed the 
basis for promises made at the time Jim was hired. When these promises 
were not carried out, he became angry, and it was this anger in turn 
which led to the judgment of ineffectiveness. 

These failures of organizational action occurred in a number of areas. 
The company had indicated an intention to fill its senior-scientist posi- 
tions with top people, the kind of people Jim might wish to work under. 
But for whatever reason, this was not done. Also, Jim was to work on 
basic studies in the area of his dissertation. But he spent his first eighteen 
months with the company in an engineering capacity doing development 
work. The research which had originally been thought so urgent was put 
off for almost two years. Jim was promised from 10 to 20 percent of his 
time to work on his own research. Finally after a long delay, he got one 
day a month for this purpose. It had been understood that his job would 

280 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

be graded appropriately and his pay established accordingly. Yet on two 
occasions he had been forced to push for a restudy of his job, and in both 
cases it was finally concluded that the existing grade was too low. 

Again and again there was a disparity between plans and actual im- 
plementation. The trouble may have been at the original planning level, 
in the interpretation of plans by the personnel department unit responsi- 
ble for recruiting, or in the area of implementation. In any event, Jim 
was not treated as he had been led to believe he would be, and without 
a closer relationship between company plans and action, people such 
as he may well fail to meet organizational standards. Other individuals 
might have accepted the lack of company action without becoming dis- 
turbed, but men like Jim are incapable of doing this. 

It was at this point that the second organizational factor came into 
play. Anger was clearly present, but was it sufficient to define the young 
chemist as ineflFective? In all probability it was not. There is every reason 
to believe that inappropriate criteria were employed. The appraisal panel 
considered Jim uncooperative, as no doubt he was, but there is little evi- 
dence that this resulted in a negative impact insofar as the work of others 
was concerned. In fact, it seems possible that his contentiousness may 
have stimulated some to more eflFective performance. Certainly this was 
true of the job analysts, and it may have been true on the development 

The appraisal panel also indicated that Jim was disloyal to the com- 
pany. The threat to organizational security was felt to be so great that he 
could not be allowed to continue in the research department. He might 
take important secrets to a competing firm. Yet there was no real basis for 
this conclusion. Jim did not sell liis company out and apparently had no 
intention of doing so. He only wanted to stimulate others to act to meet 
competition. Had he wished to do otherwise, he would have joined an- 
other firm after his demotion rather than accept a university appoint- 
ment. The overall picture suggests that James Wicks was considered in- 
effective because he angered many of those in a position to judge him. 
The personal wishes of these people subsequently became confused with 
organizational objectives and he was defined as an unsatisfactory em- 
ployee. In actuality, he had a personality which was unsatisfactory to 
certain crucial people. Thus, an inappropriate performance criterion, 
which was instrumental to the judgment of failure, was employed. 

The third organizational factor has already been mentioned in con- 
nection with the inadequacies of company action. There was a placement 
error, not in the sense that the man could not do the work, but because 
the assignment provoked some of the anger which subsequently led to 
the conclusion regarding ineffectiveness. For eighteen months Jim worked 
at a job for which he was not hired and which would not have induced 

Research Chemist: James Wicks 281 

him to join the company. Had he been aware that this was to be his fate, 
he would never have come with the firm in the first place. This was not 
perhaps the most crucial of the planning failures. Probably alone it would 
not have been sufficient to produce the final outcome, but it did contrib- 

At the time he accepted a position with the company, Jim indicated 
clearly that sincerity, honesty, and equity were very important to him. 
Throughout his period of employment, evidence of the consistency with 
which these cultural values had been inculcated appeared again and 
again. It was when they were violated that he became angry, and unfor- 
tunately they were violated rather frequently. Before he was hired a num- 
ber of promises were made regarding placement, research time, working 
relationships, job grading, etc. But in a great many of these instances the 
promises were not kept. To Jim this was grossly unfair. Many of us would 
almost certainly agree. In addition, although this does not emerge quite 
as clearly, there was apparentiy some feehng that a violation of the cul- 
tural value placed on freedom occurred when Jim was repeatedly denied 
an opportunity to do the kind of work he wanted to do. This too would 
have contributed to the emotional outbursts. When strongly held values 
are blocked and frustrated in this way, many people find it virtually im- 
possible not to express their anger. Also, since they are absolutely con- 
vinced that they are right, there is little reason for them to hold their emo- 
tions in check. 

There are, then, three types of strategic factors, since it was not the 
situation but the actions taken by the company which set oflF Jim's anger. 
These organizational failures, in interaction with the young man s values, 
produced the emotional outbursts which in turn led to inappropriate 
conclusions regarding the effectiveness of his performance. These con- 
clusions were reached at the company rather than the work-group level, 
since representatives of the personnel department and of the upper levels 
of research management were involved. 

For some time efforts to bring about change were concentrated in the 
emotional area. Jim was subjected to a good deal of pressure calculated 
to put an end to his outbursts. He was told again and again that he was 
uncooperative. As might have been anticipated, this accomplished little. 
When anger derives from frustration of cultural values, as in this instance, 
it is unlikely to be controlled by social pressure. The man believes he 
has a right to be mad and can find many who will agree with him in this 
conclusion. Similarly, there would seem to be little likelihood of chang- 
ing the underlying values themselves. Jim did not adjust his beliefs dur- 
ing a period of over two and a half years with the research and develop- 
ment department; the chances of his doing so later seem slight. He had 
too much reason to believe that he was right and the company wrong. 

282 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

This leaves correction largely up to the company. There was httle Jim's 
immediate superior could do himself. There had to be some change at the 
level of top department management and on the part of the personnel 
people involved. An individual manager can occasionally, by saying the 
right things at the right time in the right places, exert some influence. In 
this case, however, once the special appraisal panel had been established, 
the matter was no longer in any sense the responsibility of immediate 

Ideally, of course, the company would have moved as rapidly as pos- 
sible to correct the inequities perpetrated after hiring, and where this was 
impossible Jim would have been given a detailed explanation of why 
nothing could be done. In particular, adequate personal research time 
should have been provided, and every eflFort should have been made to 
ensure that he actually worked on the type of project he had been hired 
to carry out originally. This might not have eliminated his contentious- 
ness but should have reduced it considerably. 

Even more important to a complete solution, some change in the cri- 
teria used to judge Jim's performance should have been introduced. Those 
intimately involved would have had to learn to endure his outbursts, at 
least to a much greater extent than they did. Certainly the demotion and 
transfer to quality control work accomplished nothing except to rid the 
company of a very competent and valuable employee. The best solution 
would have been to leave the young scientist in his research job while 
recognizing that unpleasant situations would continue to arise occasion- 
ally. These episodes would seem a small enough price to pay for the con- 
tribution a man such as Jim can make to a company's objectives. 

Case 7 


Blair Bischel was a rather unusual truck driver. The com- 
pany had for years made it a policy to assign all new college graduates to 
some relatively low-level job for a year or more in order to get the young 
men used to taking orders as well as giving them. This policy had in re- 
cent years made it increasingly diflBcult to recruit top-flight people into 
the business, but no one had ever seriously suggested a change. Practically 
every one of the company officers had started out in a similar manner. 
The president had spent his first year working in a warehouse. There was 
a firm belief throughout the organization that everyone should be given 
an initial opportunity to get his hands dirty. It provided a true test of 
character. Blair as a new employee was no exception. 

His job required him to drive a truck containing merchandise 
purchased by customers out to the suburbs and to other locations in the 
city. Some of the items to be delivered were small and presented no 
particular problem, but others were heavy and awkward. The work was 
frequently dirty and hot. Even with a helper it was difficult to get a heavy 
appliance up a flight of stairs into an apartment. And customers were not 
likely to be pleased when an item arrived late or was damaged in some 
way. Then there were the frustrations of trying to meet a delivery sched- 
ule while threading through city traffic. The supervisor in charge of de- 
liveries had apparently developed very little understanding during his 
years as a truck driver; he became quite unpleasant when faced with 
'^necessary" delays. The job did in fact provide a test of character, espe- 
cially for a young man eager to attain the upper reaches of the manage- 
rial hierarchy. 


284 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Ever since the first day, the supervisor had been uncertain whether 
Blair would meet that test. The young man was obviously ambitious, but 
ambition did not necessarily provide the key to success in this particu- 
lar organization. He had been brought up in the city and had compiled 
an outstanding record both as a scholar and as an athlete in the schools 
there. His father could not aflFord to send him to college on his salary as 
a janitor, but this had not been an obstacle. Blair had had several offers of 
scholarship aid and finally chose a small but well-regarded private liberal 
arts college. His father mged him to attend the state university, and 
there had been considerable dissension in the family over the matter. 
Nevertheless, things had worked out well and the young man had gradu- 
ated with honors, in addition to making a name for himself as a track star. 

After that had come two years as an officer in the Air Force and then 
his present job. No one was exactly sure why he had selected this particu- 
lar place to start his career, although the store's name was well known 
throughout that part of the country. The supervisor suspected that Mrs. 
Bischel had influenced his decision. She was a local girl and apparently 
had not enjoyed the enforced separation from home necessitated by her 
husband's tour of duty in the armed forces. Blair's taking this job at least 
provided some insurance against further separation. 

Actually Mrs. Bischel represented something of an enigma to the 
supervisor. He knew relatively little about her, although they had met 
and Blair spoke of her often. It was generally understood that she came 
from a socially prominent family in one of the suburban communities 
and that she was among the top women golfers in the area. She worked 
as a reporter for one of the city newspapers and had sold several stories 
to national magazines. There was much discussion about this, and 
the general consensus was that she probably earned more than her hus- 
band. During the years when they were living at various Air Force in- 
stallations she had devoted most of her time to writing, and this activity 
was presumably now beginning to pay off. 

During his first six months on the job, Blair had no difficulty at all. 
He worked hard and got along well with fellow employees and customers 
alike. He seemed to accept the necessity of starting at the bottom and 
working up. In fact the idea apparently appealed to him. The supervisor 
was amazed at his cooperativeness, having expected more of a "prima- 
donna" attitude. Blair rarely objected to the hot, sticky work during the 
first summer, even though two other young men who had come with the 
company at the same time quit. When necessary he worked extra hours 
without complaint. 

Unfortunately, just as it began to look as if the company had a first-class 
employee with a really bright future, things began to change. There was 
no set period during which the new college graduates had to remain in 

Truck Driver: Blair Bischel 285 

blue-collar jobs. It depended on the individual and the number of higher- 
level positions that opened up. Blair, however, seemed to tire of the work 
unusually rapidly. It was not long before he was making inquiries about 
possible opportunities for advancement. Shortly after that the complaints 
began to come in. One customer called about the fresh young driver who 
had refused to take an item for exchange because he was "no salesclerk." 
Another was upset about a company truck which she had seen speeding 
past her house on several occasions when the children were out playing. 
Several people reported items left at the door with no apparent attempt 
to determine if anyone was home to receive them. There was one in- 
stance where a driver had apparently used some four-letter words while 
bringing a heavy crate in from his truck. On another occasion a male cus- 
tomer had called and used some four-letter words himself in describing 
an employee who had refused to take a damaged item back to the store. 
In every instance investigation revealed that Blair was responsible. 

When the supervisor tried to discuss these episodes he met an unantici- 
pated reaction. Blair did not attempt to deny these things. But he rather 
sullenly refused to accept the view that they were important. He indicated 
that the customers were largely chronic complainers and bossy busy- 
bodies with nothing to do but make trouble for people who amounted to 
a lot more than they did. It took about three of these "discussions" be- 
fore the supervisor was able to carry the conversation much beyond that 
point. Blair might be a sensitive young man who took offense very easily, 
but knowing that fact did not make him any easier to deal with. 

Actually, the complaints tapered off after a while, although they never 
completely disappeared for any period of time. Then one day a new prob- 
lem emerged. One of the other drivers pointed out to Blair that he had 
been consistently avoiding deliveries in a certain suburban area by ar- 
ranging things so that all such jobs fell to others. The area was not only 
rather far from the city, but it contained an unusually large number of 
customers who purchased heavy, bulky items. Blair denied the charge 
heatedly, but a check of the delivery schedules suggested it was true. In 
fact, it looked very much as if the young man had gone to considerable 
trouble to avoid this suburb. When the supervisor then sent him into the 
area specifically, the helper who was with him said that Blair would not 
get out of the truck unless both men were needed to unload something, 
and that he did so then only after considerable argument. The supervisor 
never could figure out exactly what the trouble was. He learned from an- 
other driver, however, that Mrs. BischeFs parents lived in the area and 
had for many years. Questioning Blair was, as usual, fruitless, although 
he did mention the fact that his coveralls were dirty. 

During the succeeding months Blair's name was frequently mentioned 
as promotional opportunities developed, but he was not offered a chance 

286 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

to move up. The personnel department was strongly opposed on 
the grounds that he had not proved himself competent as a truck driver. 
If he could not handle people at that level and if he kept antagonizing 
customers, how could he be expected to perform efiFectively in more diffi- 
cult and demanding jobs? The supervisor could not argue with this posi- 
tion, and in fact he did not try. The young man's mistakes in judgment 
were not serious enough to justify dismissal, but they were not the sort 
of thing one normally rewards by promotion either. If he had been hired 
to continue as a truck driver indefinitely, his performance might be con- 
sidered barely satisfactory, but he had not exhibited the kind of emo- 
tional stability required for successful performance as a manager. 

Actually, Blair's difficulties tended to come in bunches. There were 
periods of some duration with no customer complaints; then several 
would come within a short period. For a while he would be enthusiastic 
and perform well. Then rather suddenly he would turn quiet, and at such 
times people usually left him alone. The supervisor never could establish 
definitely what precipitated these periods of moodiness. They seemed 
always to follow closely on the promotion of another driver, but clearly 
this was not the only factor. One particularly bad time came after he had 
been ordered to deliver some items in the suburban community which he 
had been avoiding. On another occasion he came back from a brief vaca- 
tion during deer season and would hardly speak to anyone for a week. It 
did come out, however, that his wife had been the only one in the party 
to bag a deer. 

On the second anniversary of his employment by the company, Blair 
made a special e£Fort to obtain a commitment from the personnel people 
as to when he might expect a promotion. He was told that no such com- 
mitment could be made. In addition, it was pointed out to him that there 
was at least one other young college graduate who had been with the 
company even longer than he and who had not yet been promoted out 
of his initial assignment. Actually, a decision had been reached that Blair 
would have to stay out of trouble for at least six months before promo- 
tion could even be considered. 

Truck Driver: Blair Bischel 287 

Performance Analysis 

Blair Bischel's difficulties do not appear to be of an intel- 
lectual nature. Since he graduated from college with honors, he must have 
had the mental ability his work required. His boss did refer to his be- 
havior as occasionally reflecting poor judgment, but what he seemed to 
have had in mind was the young man's inability to control his emotions. 
Despite the terminology employed by the delivery foreman, the prob- 
lems involved appear to be emotional rather than intellectual. 

Anger and negativism did play a major role in Blair's failure. Again 
and again he had trouble with customers. He refused to take items for 
exchange, drove recklessly in neighborhood areas, left items at doors with- 
out making any attempt to deliver them personally, swore, refused to re- 
turn damaged merchandise, and was often fresh or sullen in his dealings 
with customers. It seemed sometimes that he deliberately set out to do 
things just because he was not supposed to. Often these manifestations of 
defiance appear to have been intermixed with strong feelings of shame. 

This comes out most clearly in connection with the deliveries to the 
remote suburban area. Without question Blair was avoiding this locale. 
Although trips into the area often involved hard physical work, there is 
no evidence that this was what troubled him. A more likely explanation 
is that he was ashamed of his job and did not want his wife's parents and 
their friends to see him performing it. Perhaps he had told everyone that 
he was in a management training program, but had failed to add that it 
involved a full-time assignment to delivery work. His reference to the 
dirty coveralls worn during his trip into the suburban area suggests con- 
cern about being seen under such circumstances. 

These emotional reactions are of the kind which might be expected 
considering the nature of Blair's motivation. He was clearly very ambitious, 
very concerned with getting ahead and achieving status. Before his pres- 
ent employment, he had been successful in this respect. In high school he 
had done very well both in athletics and in his studies. He had earned a 
scholarship to college and had gone on to become a track star as well as a 
good student. Later he served as an officer in the Air Force. As a truck 
driver, however, he apparently found little that served to satisfy this type 
of motivation, at least after it became evident that he would have to con- 
tinue at a low level for some time. In fact, what appears most strikingly 
is not pleasure in success at all, but a great deal of concern with problems 
of failure. 

288 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Blair appears to be constantly trying to avoid the shame which comes 
over him whenever he is made to feel unimportant. Always before, he 
had been able to accomplish this through appropriately integrated ac- 
tivity. But for him the delivery job w^as of low status no matter what he 
did. Thus, he alternated between unintegrated attempts at avoidance and 
outbursts of anger when his efforts were frustrated. He was ashamed of 
what he was doing, wanted to hide his low status from others, and made 
every effort to get out of what he considered a degrading position. He 
made repeated attempts to escape through promotion. He was ashamed 
to be seen at work by his wife's parents and their neighbors. He at- 
tempted to convey the impression that he was better than most people, 
including many of the company's customers, and thus to avoid recogniz- 
ing his low status. When all these efforts failed, he became sullen, nega- 
tive, and very angry. It would not be surprising if at such times he mused 
frequently on the utter stupidity revealed by his superiors when they 
forced him to waste his talents toadying to the whims of the idiots who 
were the firm's customers. 

Although the job did make major demands of a physical nature, they 
do not appear to have been a source of difficulty. The work was menial 
and at a low level; this troubled Blair a great deal. But the physical part 
per se was no problem. He would have performed equally poorly in a 
similar job which did not require much strength — as an usher in a movie 
theater, for instance. Actually, as a former athlete, he appears to have 
been able to satisfy the physical requirements of the work very well. He 
was able to keep going even during the hottest weather and to assist in 
moving appliances whenever his services were needed. 

At the family level there do appear to be additional sources of diflB- 
culty. In years past Blair and his father had had some disagreements, 
but these do not seem to have been a factor during the period of failure. 
Much more in evidence are the problems created by Mrs. Bischel. She 
was apparently a very competent young woman, accomplished in a 
number of masculine pursuits. She worked as a reporter on a local news- 
paper, wrote stories for national magazines, was a top-flight golfer, had 
been successful during hunting season, and probably made more money 
than her husband. In addition, she came from a socially prominent fam- 
ily, while Blair's father had been a janitor. 

All this apparently contributed to the young husband's feeling of 
shame: He was not even good enough to outshine his wife. Almost every- 
thing she did outside their home must have made him feel inferior, and 
exposure to her family was apparently even more disturbing. These peo- 
ple amounted to something, while he was nothing. The fact that his wife 
was the only one to get a deer during hunting season must have been 
almost the last straw. In addition, it was presumably his wife who had 

Truck Driver: Blair Bischel 289 

induced Blair to return to the city after his Air Force service, and thus it 
was she who was responsible for his being in a job which caused him 
such intense distress. Much of the anger, resentment, and shame provoked 
by this family situation appears to have been carried over into the work 

Blair's relationships with his fellow workers and with his boss were 
not of the best, and it is possible that this may have contributed to his 
failure. On the other hand, there is much to indicate that these diffi- 
culties were more a result than a cause. He got into trouble with cus- 
tomers, and the conflicts with his supervisor ensued. Similarly, he at- 
tempted to avoid working in the area where his wife's parents lived, and 
then had trouble with odier drivers because they felt he was not doing 
his share of the work. It seems probable, therefore, that the group was 
not a strategic factor. 

The company made it a policy to assign all new college graduates to 
some low-level position and to keep them there until they proved ca- 
pable of handling the work over an extended period. This policy guided 
the personnel people in their final decision not to promote Blair without 
at least six months of continuous trouble-free performance. It also con- 
tributed in no small way to his failure. If he could have been moved up 
within the first year, there probably would have been no difficulty. But 
as time went on he began to feel boxed, and his emotions took control. 
The disparity between the job and what the young man wanted was too 
great. As the delivery supervisor clearly recognized, the policy tended to 
select and train for management positions individuals who could with- 
stand frustration and unpleasantness, rather than people who were ambi- 
tious. But Blair had a great deal of ambition; at least, he wanted status 
and a feeling of importance above almost anything else. A more inappro- 
priate placement could not be imagined. Presumably he stayed only be- 
cause he did not want to admit failure and because he hoped that some- 
how his investment of time and emotional distress could be made to pay 

The remaining areas do not seem to be important. Blair's motivation 
was an individual matter; the culture was not a major factor. Also, the 
emotional reactions which led to so much difficulty were not situa- 
tionally caused. Blair became angry and upset when events at home in- 
volving his wife and her parents made him feel inadequate. In the work 
environment these reactions were provoked by events that reminded 
him of his continued employment in a menial position and of his inabil- 
ity to obtain the promotion he desired so much. This was basically an 
organizational matter having to do with job placement. 

The four strategic factors which have been identified do not appear to 
offer equal opportunities for change. The emotional problems are not of 

290 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

a kind which would suggest the presence of a real disorder. Even so, Blair 
might have benefited from psychotherapy. Unfortunately there was little 
likelihood that he could be induced to seek it. The need was not sufii- 
ciently strong. Without a shift in motivation or in the factors serving 
to frustrate his strong motives, there would seem little chance of achiev- 
ing a reduction in the frequency and intensity of the emotional epi- 

Similarly, the motives involved in failure do not appear to be amenable 
to change. Blair wanted to achieve and wanted to avoid the shame that 
went with low status. This kind of motivation often has roots in events 
of a much earlier period and is maintained with great tenacity. In this 
case the young man clearly wanted to get away from the kind of envi- 
ronment in which he had been reared. Probably he was ashamed of his 
parents also. Furthermore, the motives which contributed to Blair's fail- 
ure as a truck driver might well produce success in many other posi- 
tions. It is diflBcult to change motives such as this, even if one wishes to 
do so; the man is too likely to be conscious of their potential value to 
him. Integration with the job was equally improbable. Blair could not 
attain the satisfactions he desired as long as he remained a truck driver. 

Although a change in the family situation would not have solved the 
whole problem, it would have contributed to a solution. If Mrs. Bischel 
could have been induced to give up some of her outside activities and 
concentrate on her household duties, there is no question that her hus- 
band would have been much happier and his work would have bene- 
fited. There would seem httle chance of talking her into this. A move out 
of the existing environment, however, would have accomplished much 
the same result. Separated from the opportunities her family position 
created for her in the city, she would almost certainly have had more 
difficulty getting employment and participating in hobbies outside her 
home. Furthermore, a transfer to some relatively distant location would 
have eliminated the close association with Mrs. Bischel's family which 
was causing Blair so much anguish. Such a change would seem to offer 
many advantages in reducing the shame and sense of inadequacy which 
his family situation had produced. 

This would not, of course, solve the problems inherent in being 
merely a truck driver. It is important to note, however, that in the past 
when he had been able to achieve a feeling of status and importance, 
Blair had always done well. This suggests that a change in the level of 
employment, as well as in the locale, might help. It is always difficult to 
promote a man who is doing poorly into a higher-level position. It seems 
like rewarding him for failure. Yet there are people whose motives are 
organized in such a way as to make them respond favorably to the chal- 
lenge of a job within the ranks of management. They do not view the 

Truck Driver: Blair Bischel 291 

promotion as a reward for ineflFectiveness and an invitation to continue 
in the same vein. Rather, it is an opportunity to escape from hopeless dis- 
tress and show what they can really do. Thus, Blair wanted to get ahead 
and was failing because he could not. It would seem sensible to give him 
what he wanted as a condition for success. 

A promotion in this case would, of course, involve a reversal of, or at 
least an exception to, existing policy. Like so many rigid policies in the 
personnel placement area, this one appears to have done more harm than 
good. It not only contributed to Blair's failure, but also served to restrict 
the company's recruiting efiForts so that a shortage of young men with 
management potential had developed. Like many such policies, it did 
offer some advantages. For example, it provided a good measure of one 
kind of character, although there is no certainty that this was the kind 
required for outstanding performance in all varieties of managerial work 
with the company. Perhaps more important, it provided essential train- 
ing and opportunity to learn. But at the same time it apparently elim- 
inated a great many men with abilities which were badly needed, because 
they simply were not willing to go through the period of lower-level em- 
ployment and did not have to in other firms. If the policy was to be re- 
tained at all, it probably should have been supplemented with a specific 
time limit, perhaps six months or a year, and a guarantee that all those 
selected for management training would in fact be given a trial in a 
position at an appropriate level before being judged ineffective. 

Case 8 


Glenn Spicer joined the market research department in 
late January. He was assigned to one of the study directors, who immedi- 
ately put him to work on a calculator doing statistical work. Initially the 
computations required were not complex, and Glenn seemed to be doing 
a satisfactory job, although he was rather slow. After a while, however, 
the study director began to get concerned. Glenn continued to be slow 
— not only in doing the work once he got started, but also in comprehend- 
ing what was expected of him. In fact, as often as not he forgot his in- 
structions and just sat at the calculator or punched keys uncertainly until 
he was told again. He never would admit his memory failures, but he 
seemed very ashamed at such times and made all kinds of excuses, some 
rather far-fetched. This was obviously something more than a matter of 
learning a new job. Most new men had the calculators well under control 
inside of two weeks; Glenn was still in trouble after two months. 

The study director began checking Glenn's work more closely. He 
found errors. He went back and checked his earlier work and found 
more errors. One study that had been sent in to the department director 
for final approval had to be pulled back and completely reworked. When 
criticized, Glenn became very upset, but there was no real improvement. 
On occasion he appeared almost panicky. This was particularly likely 
when he was being given a new assignment which he hadn't expected 
and which he was obviously having difficulty comprehending. Any kind 
of pressure to get a job done within a given time disturbed him. He 
worked hard and set high standards for himself. He tried to please, al- 
most to the point of being obsequious, but he was clearly far from doing 

Market Research Assistant: Glenn Spicer 293 

a satisfactory job. The marked discrepancy between his standards and 
his actual performance obviously troubled Glenn a great deal, in spite 
of his repeated efforts to hide his deficiencies and his constant refusal of 

Because of his slowness and the difficulties his errors caused others, 
Glenn was not very popular among his fellow workers. He seemed to be 
continually irritating someone without really meaning to. As a result he 
was left pretty much to himself. He made little effort to alter this situa- 
tion; in fact, he seemed to prefer being alone. He became very nervous 
when anyone approached him with something new or unusual which he 
hadn't had a chance to get set for and think about for a while. It was as 
if he wanted to have everything rigidly controlled and in a set routine. 
If other people insisted on upsetting the applecart and throwing things 
out of kilter, then it was best not to have too much to do with other peo- 
ple. His social isolation clearly provided a mutually satisfactory arrange- 
ment. It protected him from anxiety, and it protected his fellow workers 
from his slowness in reacting and his almost complete lack of emotional 
responsiveness, both of which were irritating to nearly everyone. 

A check of personnel and medical records, as well as several discus- 
sions with Glenn, brought out the following facts. He had joined the 
company as a shipping clerk the previous June immediately after grad- 
uating from high school. His work had been considered generally satis- 
factory, although even in performing the routine tasks this job required, 
the quantity of work he turned out was not what it should have been. 
His conscientiousness more than compensated for this, however. The job 
put him under little time pressure and he seemed to enjoy it. During this 
period he had experienced some dizziness and had fainted at least 
twice. There was some reason to believe that these events might be asso- 
ciated with head injuries which he had received in an automobile acci- 

During his senior year in high school Glenn had been badly injured in 
an accident which was ascribed to his father's carelessness in going 
through a red light. The other car had crashed into the door next to 
Glenn, and he had been removed from the wreckage unconscious. After a 
month in the hospital he was finally sent home, but with instructions from 
his doctor that he should not enter college after graduating from high 
school, as originally planned. The doctor was convinced that the concus- 
sion and head injuries which Glenn had experienced had resulted in per- 
manent damage to his brain, and that the demands of college work 
would serve to exacerbate emotional difficulties which were already 
clearly evident. 

The accident had apparently only increased the boy's already intense 
hatred of his father, a successful lawyer. He was obsessed with the idea 

294 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

that he must remain independent of the father at all costs. Money, advice, 
even oflFers of sympathy from his parent he rejected with the same cold- 
ness. Although living in the same house, the two practically never spoke. 
Above everything else Glenn wanted to be as successful and independent 
as his father, and perhaps a little more so. 

It was this driving ambition which led him to seek the market re- 
search job. Completely ignoring the high educational criterion the com- 
pany utilized in selecting people for management positions in the depart- 
ment, and ignoring his own limitations as well, he dreamed constantly of 
rising to fame as director of market research and eventually as vice-pres- 
ident of marketing. The personnel department had recommended him 
for the job in large part because, with a well-above-average level of gen- 
eral intelligence, he seemed suited for work in a research group. His nu- 
merical ability tested at the same relatively high level. 

The final decision, after it became evident that Glenn could not be 
continued in his present position, was to return him to shipping. He ac- 
cepted the demotion with practically no emotion. If anything, he 
seemed slightly relieved. There was some brief reference to entering col- 
lege shortly and to the fact that he had saved some money so that his fa- 
ther's help would not be required. Other than that, he seemed untroubled 
by the fact that his career in marketing had been at least temporarily 

Actually, the demotion did provide a rather successful solution to the 
problem of Glenn's ineffective performance. He received a merit increase 
after a year on the new job and was quite clearly performing the work in 
a satisfactory manner. In spite of occasional references to college, he 
continued to work as a shipping clerk. There was only a slight improve- 
ment in his emotional state, and his social isolation continued, but he was 
able to maintain a satisfactory level of occupational performance. 

Performance Analysis 

Despite his adequate verbal and numerical ability as re- 
ported by the personnel department, Glenn Spicer clearly possessed 
some intellectual deficiencies which affected his work. He was very slow 

Market Research Assistant: Glenn Spicer 295 

in carrying out his duties and seemed to have some difficulty compre- 
hending what was expected of him. There were frequent failures of mem- 
ory, especially after he had been told to carry out some task that was new 
to him. Apparently many errors in calculation occurred because he com- 
pletely forgot what he was supposed to do and then tried to go ahead 
without asking for help. To these disturbances of comprehension and 
memory were added some striking deficiencies in judgment. The appar- 
ent belief that, in spite of his educational and performance limitations, 
he could attain positions such as director of market research and vice- 
president of marketing is typical. The far-fetched stories he concocted to 
explain his memory difiiculties and errors provide another example. 

These intellectual problems appear to be intimately associated with 
others of an emotional nature. Glenn was extremely anxious and as a 
result tended to withdraw from social relationships. He became upset 
when faced with a new problem which he could not rapidly compre- 
hend, when pressed to produce at a faster rate, when criticized, or when 
he could not remember things. Anything that made him in the least 
aware of his inadequacies seemed to panic him. He was constantly try- 
ing to hide his intellectual deficiencies from others, perhaps for fear that 
they might laugh at him. He seemed to have to control everything and to 
be entirely independent of others in order to prove he was not incom- 
petent. Apparently he believed that if he could get things into a rigid 
routine so that nothing unexpected would arise, he could escape his fear. 
When this defense failed and new demands appeared suddenly, he was 
likely to feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this was a common occur- 
rence in the market research job. Events of this kind must have contrib- 
uted to Glenn's many errors and to his slow rate of output. It is difficult 
if not impossible to produce adequate work when one is flooded with 
fear. In this instance the disturbing emotion seemed to be sufficiently in- 
tense and the defenses sufficiently inflexible to constitute a true neurosis. 
Anxiety was the predominant emotion. 

Motivational problems were apparently not strategic in a primary 
sense, although in one respect they do seem to be related to failure. 
Glenn's ambition led him to seek a job which was clearly over his head. 
Perhaps he half-suspected the extent of his limitations and desired the 
promotion in order to prove himself or to demonstrate that he was not as 
incompetent as others might think. In any event, his motivation was not 
realistic and contributed to his eventual ineflFectiveness, in the sense that 
it led him to apply for a position which he was incapable of handling. 
Of course, the fact that he actually obtained the market research job is 
attributable to a placement error on the part of the personnel depart- 
ment. This, rather than motivation, appears to be the major factor ac- 
counting for Glenn's presence in such an inappropriate position. 

296 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

The only physical factor in evidence is the rather strong indication of 
brain damage. The young man had been seriously injured in an automo- 
bile accident. The doctor who had treated him believed his brain had 
been damaged and that this, combined with the obvious emotional prob- 
lems involved, made it inadvisable for him to attempt college-level work. 
Much of his behavior on the job is understandable in this context. Poor 
judgment, inability to remember, slowness of comprehension, lack of 
emotional reactivity, and attempts to hide intellectual deficiencies are all 
found frequently among people who have suffered a brain injury. Dizzi- 
ness and fainting are also common aftermaths. In fact, convulsions are 
not unusual, although characteristically they develop only in cases which 
are more severe than Glenn's apparently was. 

The only fact that might argue against the conclusion that his brain 
was damaged is Glenn's relatively high level of performance on the tests 
of general intelligence and numerical ability. This is not unusual, how- 
ever, where the injury has occurred after the period of childhood learning. 
Much of the knowledge obtained previously weathers the injury and is 
retained. Tliis is particularly apt to occur if the damage has not been 

Although Glenn's relationship with his father was far from close, this 
factor does not appear to have been strategic. The armed truce which 
existed between the two, although perhaps symptomatic of Glenn's 
neurosis, seems to have served effectively to neutralize any influence that 
home conditions might have exerted on performance. The son had what 
amounted to a compulsion to remain independent of his father. To obtain 
any kind of assistance from him would presumably have represented an 
admission of weakness and incompetence. As such it would have become 
a stimulus for feelings of anxiety. But the defense of complete rejection 
seems to have succeeded in keeping unpleasant emotions to a minimum, 
at least insofar as any direct effects of family relationships on work per- 
formance were concerned. 

Glenn's relationships with his fellow workers were handled in much the 
same way. He was unpopular and as a result was ostracized, but con- 
trary to what might have been expected, this did not have a negative ef- 
fect on performance. In fact, the impact seems to have been generally 
positive. Glenn was apparently somewhat disturbed by the presence of 
other people because they might introduce problems and demands that 
he could not adequately handle. Also, they might make fun of him. The 
ostracism represented an ideal solution. Far from being strategic, it actu- 
ally reduced his anxiety and thus increased the effectiveness of his work 
to some degree. 

The fact of overplacement on both intellectual and emotional grounds 
has already been noted. Behind these, of course, was what amounted to 
an overplacement in a physical sense as well. The physician's judgment 

Market Research Assistant: Glenn Spicer 297 

appears to have been vindicated. He advised against Glenn's attending 
college because he felt the young man v^ould be unable to handle the 
work and would as a result become increasingly disturbed emotionally. 
This is, of course, exactly what happened in the market research position. 
Like college, it made demands which exceeded Glenn's capacities. 

This largely completes the hst of strategic factors. The society as a 
whole and situational forces were not instrumental to failure. Of the 
two, only the situational area seems to involve any question at all. Yet 
Glenn did not become emotionally upset when faced with particular 
physical aspects of his environment. It was the nature of the job demands 
established by the company which disturbed him. Thus, organizational 
rather than situational factors were the major determinants. 

In the hght of this analysis the action taken seems to have been cor- 
rect, and subsequent events confirm the conclusion. The physical disorder 
could not be corrected. At least, medical science does not yet have an 
adequate solution for this type of condition. This means that the intellec- 
tual deficiencies will remain and continue to restrict Glenn's occupa- 
tional attainments. Similarly, it would be very difficult to cure the emo- 
tional disorder. Perhaps psychotherapy might help, but this at best 
would eliminate only the factors of an emotional nature. It would not 
restore the ability to perform effectively in jobs such as the market re- 
search position. Furthermore, Glenn's extreme aversion to receiving as- 
sistance from anyone and his preoccupation with independence make it 
improbable that he would be willing to accept the kind of relationship 
with another person necessary for effective psychotherapy. 

Actually, the demotion appears to have reduced the need for psy- 
chotherapy. It also, without question, even further reduced whatever 
motivation to seek such help may have existed previously. As a shipping 
clerk, Glenn faced fewer intellectual demands which were beyond his 
capacity and consequently he experienced much less anxiety. This con- 
tributed to his improved performance, but it also made it improbable 
that he would seek professional assistance with his emotional problem. 
Men such as Glenn usually enter psychotherapy only when they are so 
upset that they will try anything which might remove their fear. 

In addition to the reduced intellectual demand, there is another factor 
which apparently contributed to the efficacy of demotion as a solution 
Glenn wanted a routine job which would minimize the number of new 
and unexpected factors he might have to deal with. He wanted to con- 
trol his world so that there would be no surprises which might overwhelm 
him and provoke feelings of anxiety. The position as a shipping clerk 
made it much easier for him to utilize this type of defense. It is charac- 
teristic of work in a research group that novel situations arise frequently. 
In the lower-level job there is a much greater opportunity to maintain a 
routine and to impose a rigid control on the environment. 


Case 9 


From his record there was every reason to beheve that An- 
thony Ciccelli would be a competent training coordinator. He had come 
to the plant with very strong recommendations from the people at com- 
pany headquarters and with a background of experience that seemed al- 
most ideal. After college, where he had obtained a degree in education, 
he had taught school for three years. Then, shortly before his marriage, 
he had left teaching and enrolled in the M.B.A. program at a local uni- 
versity. Much of his graduate work was apparently completed at night, 
since he held several different jobs during this period. He had joined 
the company as a junior job analyst immediately after obtaining his 

It was generally known that the training director had had his eye on 
Tony as a possible addition to his group from the beginning. The job 
analysis work was, however, a good way of learning about the company, 
and it had been several years before Tony was actually transferred. For 
the past four years Tony had worked as a training assistant on the staff 
at company headquarters developing programs, arranging for the use 
of outside specialists, and occasionally doing some training himself. There 
had been some uncertainty, when the promotion to the job of training 
coordinator at the plant was offered, whether he would accept. Mrs. Cic- 
celh had been brought up in the city and in fact had never lived any- 
where else. At several parties attended by company personnel, she had 
even expressed the view that there was nowhere else worth living. Her 
sentiments on this matter were so clear that a number of people were ab- 
solutely sure that Tony would never accept a position out of town. Nev- 

Training Coordinator: Anthony Ciccelli 299 

ertheless, contrary to expectations, he had agreed to take the plant job 
which would move him and his wife to a city over a thousand miles from 
their former home. The betting was that Mrs. CicceUi must be pretty 
sore at her husband. 

The personnel director at the plant, who was the new training coor- 
dinator's superior, found him a very pleasant young man who seemed to 
be as well informed about industrial training and education in general as 
anyone he had ever met. Since the industrial relations staff at the plant 
was not large, the two men worked closely together on a variety of prob- 
lems and soon became good friends. Several new programs were initi- 
ated during the first six months, including a course in coaching for super- 
visors and a complete retraining project for the men who were to operate 
some new equipment. Tony was well liked by nearly everyone. He had a 
convincing way of getting people to go along with him with very few 

Yet the personnel director became increasingly worried about him as 
time went by. His work was good and he was proving just as compe- 
tent as everyone had expected, but every now and then he would do 
something that did not make sense. And he seemed very unsure of himself 
and lethargic. Except for an occasional lackadaisical job on a report, 
things were customarily done well, but one would never have expected it 
from Tony's attitude. Every task was an insurmountable obstacle. The 
final product seemed to emerge out of chaos and disorganization so over- 
whelming that nothing could possibly be accomplished. Yet somehow 
the job got done, although Tony himself would have been the last to im- 
ply that anything other than pure luck could account for its completion. 
He was obviously not a happy young man. 

In part, his problems were financial. The Ciccellis had decided to keep 
their house in the city where the company headquarters were located, 
and they were currently renting it. They had, however, also bought an- 
other house to live in, and very shortly they found that they could not 
meet the mortgage payments. Tony tried to borrow money from the com- 
pany's emergency fund but was turned down. Subsequently he tried to 
sell the house in the other city, but he had permitted an option to buy to 
be written into the two-year lease. This option provided that the present 
tenants would have the first chance to acquire the property after the lease 
terminated, if the house were put up for sale. The tenants now said that 
they would be happy to buy, but only after the lease expired. 

A second attempt to borrow money from the company proved success- 
ful, and a sizable loan was made from the emergency fund. There was, 
however, considerable discussion regarding Tony's business judgment. 
There were many who felt a company employee at his level should have 
sense enough not to get in such a mess. This negative feeling was con- 

300 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

siderably enhanced when it was learned that part of the loan money 
eventually went into the purchase of a new car. Furthermore, there were 
a number of stores in town which would not permit the Ciccellis to charge 
purchases because of large unpaid bills. Their telephone had been dis- 
connected for some time because of difficulty over the payment of charges 
for long distance calls. Finally, in spite of the company loan they did lose 
the new house and had to move into a small apartment. 

All this did not help Tony's reputation in the company. There were 
many who presumed, although lacking real knowledge, that he must 
exhibit a similar deficiency in judgment on the job. For a number of 
months the personnel director remained convinced that this was not the 
case and did his best to counteract the rumors, which persistently reap- 
peared. There was a great deal of talk about Mrs. Ciccelli. The general 
feeling was that she was very bitter about having been forced to leave 
her home, friends, and family. She had not entertained anyone since their 
arrival, although the Ciccellis had been invited to the homes of a number 
of company people. On these occasions it was clear that husband and 
wife did not get along well. Tony spoke very little and appeared dejected. 
His wife frequently criticized him for forcing her to leave everything 
that was dear to her, and this criticism apparently had an impact. Tony 
did consider himself to blame for his wife's unhappiness. Anything she 
wanted him to do, he did — as if to atone for bringing her there. And Mrs. 
Ciccelli seemed to take an almost sadistic pleasure in forcing her hus- 
band to run errands for her, getting him to buy her presents, and other- 
wise reminding him of the debt he owed her. Some people said she also 
drank very heavily at home. The personnel director was never sure 
about the truth of this. 

By the time a year had passed, some evidence that Tony's difficulties 
were afiFecting his work did develop. On several occasions, enough to 
make it a problem, other people at the plant had called his office during 
the afternoon only to learn that he had left for the day. A check with his 
secretary revealed that these absences always followed a call from his 
wife. In addition, he consistently refused to take any trips out of town on 
business. There was always something at the plant which required his 
attention. On the one occasion when he had gone, to attend a one-week 
management development program required of all training coordina- 
tors, he had had to return home after two days because of his wife's se- 
vere illness. 

Although the personnel director hated to do it, he finally forced himself 
to call his friend in and bring up these problems. He pointed out that in 
general the training function was being handled well, but that there was 
a question as to how much the company could permit personal problems 
to take precedence over job requirements. Certainly things had not yet 

Training Coordinator: Anthony Ciccelli 301 

come to the point where drastic action was required, but the way things 
were going, that day might not be too far off. Tony, as expected, did not 
want to talk about his problems. He mentioned that he had thought of 
getting a divorce. Yet he could not bring himself to do that to his wife. 
He had forced her to leave her home and parents in order to advance 
his own selfish career objectives. It would be terribly unfair to leave her 
now. He did not know what to do. Things seemed rather hopeless. This 
thing had somehow gotten bigger than he was. 

Several weeks later he called the personnel director and said he wanted 
to talk. It turned out that he wanted a transfer back to company head- 
quarters. He would take anything that was available even if it meant a 
demotion. Perhaps there was something in job analysis. He realized this 
would hurt his career, but he had to do it. The personnel director prom- 
ised to see what could be done. As it turned out, this proved to be very 
little. There was a strong feeling among the top people in the industrial 
relations department that a man should not let his personal life intrude 
upon his job. Anyone who was so weak that he would risk sacrificing his 
career because of family problems was obviously not the type who 
could be considered to have a future with the company. Tony would 
have to show his true colors. He was needed in his present job, not at 
headquarters. Any transfer for personal reasons was out of the question. 
The next move was up to him. 

On hearing this news, Tony said he would have to talk things over 
with his wife. The next day he resigned. 

Performance Analysis 

Anthony Ciccelli failed in relation to one aspect of perform- 
ance only. Although there may have been some decline in the quality 
and quantity of his work, this was not sufficient to warrant labeling him 
ineffective. In time, if things had continued as they were, true deficiencies 
might have developed in these areas, but this had not happened by the 
time he left the company. There were no problems insofar as the man's 
effects on the work of others and on company goals were concerned. The 

302 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

difficulty was almost entirely in relation to his absence from the job. He 
went home from work early, failed to attend conferences which would 
take him outside the city, and finally indicated that he could not continue 
in his present job at all. 

These problems were almost certainly not caused by intellectual fac- 
tors. Tony had a master's degree in business administration and extensive 
experience in the training field. He had a good background in education 
and had taught school. His qualifications seem to be almost ideal for this 
kind of work. The personnel director had, in fact, found him to be ex- 
tremely well informed. There is some possibility of a problem in matters 
of personal judgment, in that some very poor financial decisions were 
made. This, however, had not yet become a source of failure on the job. 
The fact that a man needs an emergency loan from the company is not, 
in and of itself, sufficient to cause him to be considered ineffective. Actu- 
ally, the deficiencies in judgment do not appear to be so much Tony's 
as his wife's. Difficulties arose largely because he permitted himself to 
be dominated by another person who apparently was not capable of 
exercising good sense. If the young man had been making his own deci- 
sions in the financial area, they undoubtedly would have been of much 
better quality. 

There is evidence that Tony was experiencing a great deal of guilt and 
that he was frequently depressed. He was unsure of himself and lethargic. 
Although he always got the job done and usually did it well, he had no 
confidence and constantly expected to fail. "He obviously was not a very 
happy young man." He felt responsible for his wife's condition, believ- 
ing that it was his own selfishness in insisting on accepting a promotion 
that had caused her so much suffering. The pattern of behavior suggests 
a person who is continually condemning himself for what he has done to 
another human being and who is willing to do anything to atone for his 
guilt. Unable to rid himself of this sense of personal blame, he became 
overwhelmed with the hopelessness of his situation. Probably Tony's 
state had not progressed to the point where he could be said to be suffer- 
ing from an emotional disorder. Yet he was obviously upset much of the 

The significance of this emotional factor is not so much that his emo- 
tions interfered directly with his work as that they made him extremely 
sensitive to any appeal or demand made by his wife. Any time Mrs. Cic- 
celli wanted him to do something, he felt he had to do it even if it might 
seriously disrupt his work. He apparently was unwilling to face the much 
greater guilt he knew he would experience should he ever say no to her 
again. He had done that once, when they moved out of the city to take 
this job. Thus, the emotional pattern established a readiness to react, 
which in combination with the demands of his wife led Tony to behave 

Training Coordinator: Anthony Ciccelli 303 

in ways that were detrimental to his performance. Although we cannot 
be sure, there is a good chance that this type of motivation operated in 
nearly all the cases where he appeared to show poor judgment. 

Thus, it seems probable that they did not sell their house in the city 
because his wife wanted to keep it. Retaining the house would make 
their move seem less final. Unfortunately it also created some very diffi- 
cult financial problems, especially when coupled with the purchase of a 
second house in the area to which they moved. Using the company loan 
to purchase a new car also sounds very much hke one of Mrs. Ciccelli's 
decisions. The unpaid bills may well have reflected her tendency to in- 
dulge herself and to demand frequent gifts from her husband. Probably 
the telephone was disconnected because of an excessive number of long 
distance calls to the city in which they had previously lived. It is clear 
that Tony spent a great deal of time running errands for his wife and that 
he often left work in the middle of the day because she wanted him to. 
Probably his refusal to go on trips out of town represented a response to 
her protests. On the one occasion when he did go, developments at home 
made it necessary for him to return prematurely. At the end Tony asked 
to be transferred back to the city largely because of his wife; he presum- 
ably hoped to escape her constant accusations and reproaches. It may 
even be that she specifically urged him to act as he did. When that 
course failed, it was almost certainly she who decided he should quit. In 
his desperation he had little choice but to do as she wished. It was obvi- 
ous that she had become very emotionally disturbed and that to continue 
would make matters even worse for her. 

There can be little doubt that Mrs. Ciccelli was in fact ill. The move 
apparently disturbed her a great deal. Whether her problem was situa- 
tional or represented a reaction to separation from her family cannot be 
determined with certainty. Tony apparently believed that separation 
from her parents was the crucial factor. The exact pattern of her neuro- 
sis is not entirely clear, but there can be no question about her intense 
desire to be loved. She wanted to receive gifts and to have her husband's 
constant attention. Again and again she must have told him that he could 
not really love her and still force her to live in a place like this. She con- 
demned him often, presumably for his thoughtlessness and for his failure 
to demonstrate his love by doing what she wished him to. It is not uncom- 
mon in cases like this for the disturbed person to threaten suicide. There 
is also some possibility that Mrs. Ciccelli was on the way to becoming 
an alcoholic. Whatever the specific nature of the disorder, the seriousness 
of her condition, combined with her incessant demands, forced Tony to 
give his family problems a much higher priority than his job. 

Although it is sometimes difficult to obtain enough information to elim- 
inate any possibility of a placement error, the information was available 

304 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

in Tony Ciccelli's case. It was widely known that his wife wanted to stay 
in the city and that she had very strong feehngs on the matter. Of coinrse, 
no one knew that she would develop a neurosis as a result of a move, but 
there was every reason to believe that a great deal of discord would occur 
within the family. At least, there was enough known to make it clearly 
advisable to investigate the matter more fully before making a final deci- 
sion regarding the assignment. The fact that this was not done contrib- 
uted in no small way to Tony's failure. 

The placement error was perpetuated at a later date by the company 
when Tony's request for a transfer back to the head office was turned 
down. At that point there was even more evidence available to indicate 
that because of the family factors involved, the assignment had been a 
mistake. This company action will be taken up in greater detail shortly 
in connection with the discussion of possible solutions. For the moment 
it is sufficient to note that the company did contribute to the failure. 

Several other possible strategic factors should be mentioned briefly. 
Physical causes do not appear to be present. Tony was not ill, as far as we 
know, and his behavior was not compatible with such an explanation. 
Group factors are equally improbable. He was well liked and had the 
capacity to elicit support and cooperation from others which staflF posi- 
tions of this kind often require. The personnel director, far from contrib- 
uting to failure, did everything he could to help. There were those who 
began to doubt Tony's competence eventually, after his financial prob- 
lems became known, but these people did not cause his inefiFectiveness. 

In view of the fact that guilt is a predominant factor, some consid- 
eration must be given to the possibility that a conflict involving cultural 
values was present. Mrs. Ciccelli certainly tried to convince her hus- 
band that such a conflict existed. She made it clear that in her opinion 
he had been selfish and had deliberately caused her to suflFer. By implica- 
tion she indicated that in following the dictates of his work he had vio- 
lated cultural precepts against selfishness and harming other human be- 
ings. Yet it is not generally considered bad to accept a promotion and to 
progress in one's chosen occupation, even if this requires some adjust- 
ment on the part of the family. It is, of course, wrong to deliberately 
make others suflFer, but very few people would view the Ciccellis' move 
in that light. The wife seems to be interpreting cultural values in terms 
of her personal desires. This is rather common in neurosis. In order to 
gain her husband's love and constant attention she attempted to appeal 
to commonly held values and to make him behave out of a sense of guilt. 
But in order to accomphsh this, she had to distort the values to a point 
where they are hardly recognizable as such. Unfortunately, Tony came 
to accept these distortions and to experience increasing amounts of 

Training Coordinator: Anthony Ciccelli 305 

guilt. This does not mean, however, that the real values of society were 
instrumental to his behavior. 

Since there is no evidence of any kind of situational causation other 
than that inherent in family ties, we can now move to the possible types 
of corrective action. At the emotional and motivational level there seems 
little that could have been done without a concomitant change in at least 
one of the other factors. Tony was not disturbed enough to make psycho- 
therapy a likely solution for him. His wife's need was obviously so much 
greater. Yet as long as the family problem continued, he would inevitably 
remain upset, and the behavior which contributed to failure would not 
disappear. In fact, the whole situation was well started on a downhill 
course, as Tony apparently recognized. Without some drastic action, 
things could only become worse. 

There are a number of possible solutions at the family level. One pos- 
sibility, as Tony himself mentioned, was divorce. Another was a long- 
term separation which would permit Mrs. Ciccelli to return to the city 
alone. This is the sort of thing in which no company can afiFord to be- 
come directly involved. The probability of severe repercussions is too 
high. If any interference should become common knowledge, a number 
of competent employees might well leave the firm on purely ethical 
grounds. Since a divorce or separation did not occur under its own 
power prior to the time employment was terminated, this possibility must 
be eliminated. 

The next alternative is some type of effort to cure Mrs. Ciccelli's neuro- 
sis within the present locale. The personnel director was quite close to 
her husband. He was certainly in a position to suggest psychotherapy to 
him and to provide him with the names of competent practitioners in 
the area. Perhaps the company could have extended Tony's loan so that 
he would have been in a position to handle the expense involved. Pre- 
sumably the house in the other city would have been sold eventually, and 
at that time an improvement in his financial position would occur. Hav- 
ing a psychologist or psychiatrist available to whom the wife could turn 
would have partially removed the burden from her husband's shoulders 
and would probably, in and of itself, have been sufficient to restore min- 
imally effective performance. At least it would have kept him from quit- 
ting his job. As the wife's treatment progressed, a sizable improvement in 
the husband's emotional state could have been expected to occur as well. 

Of course, there is always the possibility that this solution might not 
work. Mrs. Ciccelli might refuse treatment, or the treatment might prove 
unsuccessful. In that case, the only appropriate alternative would seem 
to be a transfer back to corporate headquarters — a lateral transfer, if at 
all possible. Action of this kind was considered and turned down. Al- 

306 The Management of Inejfective Performance 

though it is easy to appreciate the reasoning behind this decision, its 
appropriateness is open to question. Probably it was based to some de- 
gree on a desire to punish a man who seemed to be trying to take the 
placement prerogative out of the hands of higher management and force 
his own transfer. There was every reason to believe that if his wife's con- 
dition could be cured, Tony would be a very effective employee, and 
that a return to the city would bring about a sizable improvement in her 
condition. This would seem to be a sufficient argument for permitting the 
family to move back. It seems probable also that those who made the 
negative decision on his application were not entirely aware of the pres- 
sure he was under — of what it is like to live with a severely disturbed 
person and to feel helpless in the face of a developing catastrophe of this 

Case 10 


The company hired Floyd Nelson as a night janitor at the 
research laboratories largely because it was difficult to find anyone else 
who was interested in the job. He had just returned home after several 
years in the Navy and was having trouble finding work. There was little 
demand for a young man who lacked a high school diploma. By the time 
he reached the company employment office he was willing to take almost 
anything. He admitted that he did not like the idea of night work and 
that his girl did not care for it either, but on the other hand he was at- 
tracted by the prospect of being associated with the laboratories. Work- 
ing there was preferable to employment at a factory even though the 
pay might be somewhat less. 

Actually, he remained in the janitorial position somewhat less than a 
year. An opening developed for a laboratory helper, and since Floyd 
was obviously interested, he was given a chance. No one was really sure 
whether he had done a good job with the janitorial staflF or not, since the 
work at night was very loosely supervised. He had been absent more 
often than was generally acceptable, but in view of his youth this was 
not considered surprising. Presumably absenteeism would be less of a 
problem if he worked days. 

As it turned out, this prognosis was correct. In fact he proved a very 
satisfactory employee in his new position. The job required him to take 
care of various items of laboratory equipment and to perform certain 
relatively menial chores for the scientists with whom he worked. He was 
considered something of a young screwball by these older men, but he 
was so obviously pleased with his job and himself that many of his antics 


308 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

were forgiven. Once in a while someone would have to crack down on 
him for attempting to do a job for which he lacked the technical train- 
ing, but this was not common and he always took the criticism with good 
grace. In actual fact he did pick up a variety of technical skills by virtue 
of his constant association with the scientists. At the end of the first six 
months the group leader wrote a rather glowing report, noting that, "His 
performance has been excellent. He is competent and cooperative. He 
was quick to learn the various routines and different types of equipment 
and their uses. We are all very pleased with the way he has developed." 

Reports such as this are not likely to go long unnoticed. Before the year 
was over the mail-room supervisor at the laboratories had put in a request 
that Floyd be transferred to his group. The job was only slightly higher 
in grade, but it did offer the possibility of further promotion through vari- 
ous clerical jobs in the research center. Unfortunately, although Floyd 
took the job, he did not stay in it. This created some consternation, but 
things finally were smoothed over. He apparently did not like the peo- 
ple he had to work with in the mail room and kept going back up to the 
lab whenever he had a break. And the breaks kept getting longer and 
longer. Finally the mail-room supervisor forbade him to leave the work- 
room except when given specific permission. The result was a consid- 
erable increase in output but also some very evident displeasure. After a 
month during which Floyd performed quite effectively, he apparently 
became thoroughly fed up with the situation and asked to be transferred 
back to his old job. He was told that his pay would have to be reduced, 
but that the request could be granted since his replacement had proved 
unsatisfactory. Floyd was overjoyed. 

Back in the laboratory he performed effectively in every respect, and 
he clearly enjoyed his work. However, there was no possibility of his 
being promoted within the various research groups; he did not even have 
a high school education. Also, since the debacle involving the mail room, 
none of the supervisors of service groups at the research center would 
take him. Floyd remained in the laboratory working as a helper with the 
scientists for four years before another opportunity for promotion came 
his way, and even then he accepted the new position reluctantly. 

The scientists with whom he worked were sorry to hear of his decision 
to leave. He had over the years collected a fantastic repertoire of jokes, 
some clean and some not so clean. Things would clearly be much more 
peaceful, perhaps even dull, around the lab after the young helper's de- 

The new job was not exactly what Floyd would have desired. He was 
to become a welder in the repair shop at the factory in town. He had 
picked up some knowledge of the work during his years at the research 
center and was to receive further training. It all sounded rather unpleas- 

Welder: Floyd Nelson 309 

ant. In fact for a while he had insisted he did not want the job. However, 
the personnel man kept pointing out that this would be the last oppor- 
tunity for promotion, that there was no possible future for a man without 
technical training at the laboratories. And the increase in pay was ap- 
pealing. Finally he gave in. 

Almost from the beginning it was evident that Floyd was going to be 
a problem in the repair shop. He knew something about welding al- 
ready, enough to get by; but he made no effort to learn more. When any 
of the men attempted to teach him, he usually ignored them. This re- 
sponse was not unique to the training situation. He rarely spoke to any- 
one, except the foreman, if he could possibly help it. At quitting time he 
went his way without a word, and he ate lunch alone. There were no 
more attempts to gain attention, and the jokes went untold. The foreman 
had seen "loners" before, but usually they were people whom, for one 
reason or another, the other men wanted to avoid. That was not the case 
in this instance. At first the men tried to be friendly; they were very inter- 
ested in what went on at the research laboratories and asked Floyd many 
questions. However, he rejected these overtures, at times not even both- 
ering to answer at all. Later this initial friendliness disappeared and 
there were many comments about the "stuck-up ex-janitor from the re- 
search center," but there were still a few men who would have liked to 
get to know him better. 

All this would not have bothered the foreman too much were it not 
for the fact that the new welder was getting practically nothing done. A 
high percentage of the jobs initially assigned to him had to be reassigned 
later to someone else. The men did not care for this and on occasion made 
it very clear that he was expected to do his share. The foreman hoped 
that the others would eventually force Floyd into Hue in order to protect 
themselves from doing extra work. Several similar cases had worked 
out that way in the past. In the end, however, this hope was doomed to 
failure. No one could have been less impressed by the comments of the 
other men in the shop. As a result the foreman had to spend a consid- 
erable amount of time with Floyd trying to talk him into doing at 
least a bare minimum of work. This effort was not very successful either. 

From these discussions the foreman gathered that a major source of 
the diflBculty was Floyd's continuing doubt regarding the wisdom of the 
choice which had brought him to the repair shop. He clearly considered 
the work menial and unimportant. He had no great respect for the kind 
of people who devoted their lives to this type of activity. At times he 
seemed to believe that if he had stayed at the research center, he might 
eventually have moved up and become a scientist himself. At other times 
he seemed to recognize his limitations more clearly, but even then he 
gave the impression that his transfer to factory work should have been 

310 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

at a much higher level. Again and again he mentioned the low level of 
the work performed in the shop. The foreman tried to convince him that 
the only way to rectify this situation was by applying himself on his 
present job in order to qualify as a candidate for promotion into some 
more interesting kind of work. Floyd continued, however, to complain 
about the situation in which he found himself and to do very little work. 
One would almost gather that he had been forced to take the welding 

At the end of the first year the foreman had to admit to himself that the 
new welder was unsatisfactory in nearly every respect and that there was 
apparently very little that could be done about it. One possibility was 
to fire him, but even the mention of that might well stir up trouble with 
the union. Things had been rather touchy ever since a layoflF several 
months before. Anyway, the supervisor was not one to threaten his men. 
He believed in "live and let live." A transfer back to the research center 
might be arranged, but it would be hard to accomplish so long after the 
initial change. Perhaps if Floyd had requested a demotion or if some- 
thing had been done within the first six months, the whole problem 
would have solved itself. But now it looked as if the company and the 
foreman would have to put up with an unfortunate situation. Maybe 
things would work out eventually. 

Performance Analysis 

Floyd Nelson's job as a welder was at the third level in 
terms of demand for verbal ability. In spite of his limited education, it 
is almost certain that he met the requirement for this type of position and 
that he possessed other necessary special abilities as well. While at the 
laboratory he proved himself adept at picking up new knowledge on a 
great variety of subjects. He also had a good memory for humorous sto- 
ries. A man could not learn as rapidly as this in one environment and still 
lack the ability to acquire a comparable set of skills in another. In addi- 
tion, Floyd had actually obtained a rudimentary knowledge of welding 
before going to the factory. He learned very little more about the subject 

Welder: Floyd Nelson 311 

after leaving the laboratories, but this does not appear to be because he 
lacked the abiHty. He made practically no effort to acquire additional 
information, even though he was offered every opportunity. 

The diflBculties in the Yielding job do not seem to be related to emo- 
tional factors, either. There is no indication that excessive anger, fear, or 
depression interfered with performance. Again the problem seems to be 
that Floyd just did not want to work. Yet at the laboratories he had been 
a willing, perhaps even an enthusiastic, employee. The difference ap- 
pears to be that in the research setting he was continually exposed to an 
environment and to associations with other people which made him feel 
important. He gained a feeling of pleasure from being a part of a labora- 
tory, where really significant things were being done, and from working 
alongside die scientists. At the factory this desire for status, if only by 
association, was frustrated. The people were not important in his eyes; 
the environment was dirty and unprepossessing; the work was the sort 
of thing anyone could do. Faced with a situation in which he saw no 
possible way of satisfying a dominant motive, Floyd gave up. 

Actually, problems of a motivational nature first began to appear 
when he was transferred briefly to the mail room. At that time he indi- 
cated a clear preference for work which would put him in frequent con- 
tact with the scientists. He presumably enjoyed being with people whom 
he considered really important and rejected the group in the mail room 
because he could not find a similar type of satisfaction there. In fact, this 
pattern runs through his career with the company. At the time of his 
original employment Floyd disclosed his distaste for factory work and 
stated that he would much rather work at the laboratories in spite of the 
somewhat lower pay. When he moved to the repair shop, he did so with 
very little enthusiasm. Once there he showed no interest in welding and 
completed very few of the jobs assigned to him, in spite of continuing 
pressure from his fellow employees. He viewed the work as menial and 
had little respect for those who were content to perform it. He com- 
plained frequently and made it quite clear that he considered his origi- 
nal decision to take the job a mistake. 

Although as a welder Floyd would be required to possess a certain 
amount of dexterity and muscular coordination, there is no reason to 
believe that this was a source of failure. As a laboratory helper, he must 
have needed similar skills, and there he performed very effectively. No 
other physical factors would seem to offer a possible explanation for what 
happened. Similarly, family factors do not appear to be of a kind that 
might explain the situation, although we know very little about the home 

The work group was, of course, a strategic influence. There was a lack 
of cohesion, at least insofar as Floyd's personal relationship to his fellow 

312 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

workers in the repair shop was concerned, which contributed in no small 
way to his failure. He needed very much to feel that he was part of a 
high-status group, to consider himself accepted by people whom he could 
look up to. The nature of the factory group made it impossible for him 
to attain this kind of feeling. As a result he rejected the others, presum- 
ably believing that to get really close to them would be somehow de- 

It is interesting to note that during his employment at the laboratories 
he was extremely responsive to pressure from other people. He took criti- 
cism with good grace and was considered very cooperative. This charac- 
teristic had not been quite as evident in the mail room, and in the repair 
shop it was entirely lacking. The men made every effort to induce him to 
do his share of the work, but without any success whatsoever. Here cohe- 
sive pressures were totally devoid of any impact, apparently because 
Floyd did not wish to consider himself part of the group. 

It seems probable that the repair shop foreman also contributed his 
share to the failure, or at least to the perpetuation of it. In his dealings 
with Floyd he never really accepted the managerial role, nor did he es- 
tablish adequate performance standards. The attempts to get the group 
to impose pressures for increased productivity are consistent with this 
interpretation. Later, when this approach had clearly failed, the fore- 
man devoted his efforts to trying to persuade his young welder to do the 
work assigned to him. These efforts at cajolery also failed. They were 
never supplemented by any attempt to exert real pressure. The foreman 
was not the kind of person who went around threatening his men. Disci- 
pline was not his forte. 

In the end the foreman merely gave up all efforts to find a solution and 
became resigned to the situation, hoping that "things would work out 
eventually." Although such a failure to act may be appropriate on some 
few occasions, as where certain organizational policies are involved, this 
is rarely the case when motivation is strategic. Certainly what happened 
at the time of his relatively brief employment in the mail room would 
suggest that pressure might have worked with Floyd. If the foreman 
could have conveyed the impression that continued failure to do assigned 
work would in fact produce some unpleasant consequences, there is a 
real possibility that an improvement in performance would have oc- 

At the organizational level tliere was a problem in the placement area. 
Motivational, group, and situational factors all operated to make the 
welding job an incorrect assignment. Although Floyd was not actually 
forced to accept work at the factory, as he sometimes implied, he was 
exposed to a considerable amount of pressure. He tried to turn the posi- 
tion down but was finally induced to accept. This hesitancy in and of it- 

Welder: Floyd Nelson 313 

self should have been sufficient to suggest the possibility of future mo- 
tivational difficulties. At least it should have called for an extended dis- 
cussion of why the promotion appeared undesirable. In addition, there 
was the episode in the mail room to serve as a guide. Under somewhat 
similar circumstances he had previously failed to exhibit appropriate 
motivation, and it had finally been necessary to return him to his original 
job. In the present instance, however, the work group and the physical 
setting were even further removed from what would have been required 
for satisfactory performance. 

As just indicated, Floyd's difficulties at the factory were not restricted 
to the people with whom he worked. The physical factory environment 
was also strategic. The very fact that he had to work in such a place ap- 
parently served as a constant reminder of the extent to which his strong- 
est motives had been frustrated. Perhaps if he had been employed in the 
factory office, things would have been better, but the repair shop cer- 
tainly did not strike him as a high-status situation. 

To complete the analysis it should be noted that cultural factors were 
not involved. Motivation of the kind Floyd evinced is an entirely individ- 
ual matter. Also, there can be no question that the young welder was a 
failure by any standards. Cultural values did not introduce inappropriate 

As has been mentioned, increased pressure and the enforcement of 
work standards would appear an obvious solution to the motivational 
difficulties in this case. As the mail-room supervisor found out, this ap- 
proach could yield results. Presumably Floyd did fear failure, and if he 
had been led to believe that continued unsatisfactory performance would 
result in demotion, disciplinary action, or even firing, he might have ex- 
erted much more eflFort on the job. A probationary period might have 
been helpful. In view of the foreman's feelings about discipline and fir- 
ing, it seems possible that he exaggerated the chances of militant union 
action in connection with this particular case. Floyd's popularity was 
waning rapidly and he lacked the support which membership in a cohe- 
sive group can provide. In fact, he had rejected the pressures of his asso- 
ciates when they attempted to influence him to do his share. Many prob- 
ably would have been very happy to see him get what he deserved. These 
are not the conditions which normally induce a union to take up a griev- 
ance as a major cause. 

It is possible that a transfer wdthin the factory might have been neces- 
sary to obtain this kind of pressure. The repair shop foreman does not 
appear to be the kind of person who could carry out the necessary 
actions in an effective manner. It should have been possible, however, to 
locate an appropriate supervisor somewhere in the factory and to find a 
job in which welding skills could be utiHzed. Whether or not the repair 

314 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

shop foreman should have been replaced depends, of course, on his per- 
formance in other respects. 

There is always a possibility that Floyd might respond to pressure in 
some way other than through work efiFort. He might continue to do 
nothing, in which case firing could be the only course remaining. A more 
likely prospect is that the situation would eventually become intolerable 
for him. He would make every effort to escape, either by leaving the 
company or more probably by requesting a transfer to a job such as the 
one at the laboratories. 

Actually there is no reason why Floyd could not have been restored to 
effective performance by an appropriate change of work group and envi- 
ronment. If his desire for status by association could have been satisfied 
once again, he should have had no trouble. This would have meant a 
transfer back to the laboratories or to some other similar situation. It 
would also probably have meant a demotion. Ideally, of course, all this 
would have been done shortly after he had proved ineffective as a welder, 
within the first six months or so. If objective standards had been clearly 
established at the outset, he might have requested a demotion back to 
the laboratories after a few months, or he might have started to work 
effectively at the factory on the basis of a different kind of motivation 
than any he had manifested previously. Alternatively, he might have 
terminated his employment with the company voluntarily. AU these 
would have represented more desirable solutions than what actually oc- 

Case 11 


The most important thing in Wayne Tindall's early life was 
basketball. He was a star in high school and went on to a small college 
which was known outside the state primarily for its ability to develop 
top-ranking teams in this sport. There he did well enough to attract the 
attention of one of the professional clubs, and after graduation and a 
brief period of military service, he received an oflFer which was suflB- 
ciently attractive to start him on a career in pro basketball. Although 
never a really outstanding player, he managed to hold on for a number 
of years and in the process made a comfortable living. In fact he was well 
into his thirties before he began to think seriously about what life might 
be like after his playing days were over. He and his wife had operated a 
fishing camp during the summer months ever since their college days, 
and both had always assumed, almost without thinking, that this would 
be their vocation after basketball ceased to provide an income. When, 
however, it came to the point where he could expect to play for only one 
or two more seasons at best, the need for somewhat more realistic plan- 
ning forced Wayne to the conclusion that the fishing camp was no long- 
term solution. It had never been a particularly profitable venture and 
there was little likelihood that it ever would be. 

His thinking had progressed about this far when he got into a conver- 
sation with a businessman who was staying at the camp. This man urged 
him to try selling, pointing out that it was a field which required no spe- 
cial previous training. By the time they got through talking, Wayne had 
agreed to get in touch with the man at the end of the next season and to 
apply for a job with his company. The man was sure there would be a 
sales position available — and as it turned out, he was right. 


316 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

It was company practice to break new men in by having them work 
under very close supervision at first. Then, as they learned, it was ex- 
pected that they would require less and less direction until finally they 
could handle a territory almost entirely on their own. Something Hke 
three years was characteristically required before a man was considered 
competent to work under minimal supervision. Wayne almost from the 
beginning was expected to complete his training in record time — perhaps 
as little as two years. He was older than many of the others and had a 
background of experience as an athlete. This kind of background was 
widely respected in the company. Furthermore, he gave every indication 
of being a topnotch salesman. He learned quickly, worked hard, and 
people liked him. He was one of those individuals who never see any- 
thing but the best in others and act accordingly. After a ten-minute 
conversation, people usually considered him a close and loyal friend. The 
progress reports sent in by his supervisor contained many glowing state- 
ments and emphasized his skill in handling people. There were several 
notations that he appeared to have considerable potential for supervisory 

Largely because of these reports, Wayne had a very brief career as a 
salesman. Eight months after he started, he was pulled off the job and 
sent back to the home office to work in the advertising department. In 
part, this decision was based on a wish to provide him with a broader 
background of experience than was possible in sales work alone. The 
company tried to give men who showed some promise of rising into the 
ranks of management as much opportunity to gain diverse training as 
possible. But it was also true that the advertising department badly 
needed another man. Had that not been the case, Wayne would have 
remained in selling for a much longer period of time. 

To an ex-basketball player who liked to spend his vacations out in the 
woods hunting and fishing, the world of advertising was something less 
than appealing. He stayed with it only because his job represented a 
road back to sales work, which he had enjoyed veiy much during his lim- 
ited period of exposure. As it turned out, it was a rather long road. He 
spent over three years in the advertising department, devoting most of 
the time to seemingly interminable discussions with agency people. When 
he left, however, it was with a promotion and a solid record of accom- 
plishment behind him. He was generally considered to have an unusually 
promising future in the company, although he himself had never indi- 
cated agreement with this opinion, nor did he appear terribly interested 
in achieving managerial success. 

The new job placed him in charge of marketing a special line of prod- 
ucts, which the company sold through a completely separate sales force 
assigned only to this work. The country as a whole was divided into two 

Sales Manager: Wayne Tindall 317 

segments. Wayne was sales manager for the Western area. It was a big 
jump for a man with no supervisory, and very httle sales, experience. 
Management recognized this, but there was widespread confidence in 
the ex-basketball player. He would do all right. 

It was impossible to evaluate Wayne's work adequately until about a 
year had passed. The sales figures are the crucial measure, and it takes a 
while for the impact of a new manager to show up in the figures. When 
sufficient time had passed for his leadership to be felt, however, the results, 
at least as indicated by the sales criterion, were not as good as had been 
expected. In fact, the Western area had slipped behind the Eastern in 
terms of percentage gain for the first time in many years. 

The trouble seemed to be partly in his handling of salesmen. When- 
ever a man got in any trouble for whatever reason, Wayne was there to 
defend him. At times he came to the defense of his men unnecessarily, so 
eager was he to appear as their representative rather than their master. 
He would on occasion go to fantastic lengths to do a favor for one of the 
salesmen or to help out when one was in a jam. As might have been ex- 
pected under these circumstances, he rarely pushed a man for more work 
or offered any criticism. Often when he knew that something had to be 
done, he would do it himself rather than ask someone else to do the job. 
There were innumerable times when he made special trips hundreds of 
miles out of his way to see complaining customers. Normally the sales- 
man in the territory would have been notified of the complaint and told 
to handle it and see that there were no more of the same. Although they 
liked and respected Wayne for his honesty and sincerity, many of the 
salesmen, especially the green ones, obviously had some feeling that they 
should be receiving more constructive coaching which might help them 
to see what mistakes they had made and how they could improve. 
Their sales manager seemed to find it so hard to talk about the work at 
all that no one really knew where he stood. 

This same reticence was not apparent in his dealings with people at 
higher levels. He usually checked on any proposed action that was not 
strictly routine, to get assurance from his supervisors that it was within 
poHcy. On such occasions he frequently revealed a surprising failure to 
understand the situation facing him. He would raise a number of ques- 
tions which indicated either that he lacked information regarding sales 
procedures or that he had not taken the time to think his problem 
through. It was hard to tell which. In any event, he was obviously not 
considering many factors which he should have taken into account in 
making his decisions. There were at least two occasions when he revealed 
that he did not know policy regarding acceptable charges on a salesman's 
expense account. In another instance he allowed a territory to remain un- 
serviced for an excessive period of time because of a misunderstanding 

318 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

regarding company policy in this respect. The hst could be extended 
almost indefinitely. 

In addition, Wayne had not yet been able to organize his work well 
enough so that he could plan against future eventualities. He moved 
from one crisis to another trying to do a great amount of work normally 
handled by the salesmen, trying to follow orders and policy to the letter, 
trying to keep up with his own work load. It was a difficult existence. At 
times there was some hope that he might break through and get on top 
of the situation. In recent months, however, this hope had become rather 
dim. Yet he maintained his air of outward calm, of sincerity and friendli- 
ness. He was without question trying to do the best job he could. 

When these problems were discussed with him, Wayne exhibited the 
almost excessive deference which always characterized his relations with 
his superiors. He agreed entirely with the criticisms. He should set higher 
standards for his men and follow up to see that his orders were carried 
out. He should think things through before seeking help at higher levels. 
He should devote more thought to organizing his own work and should 
let the salesmen do theirs. He should exhibit greater confidence in him- 
self. One could not help feeling, although the man agreed with every com- 
ment made, that there was little likelihood of his behavior actually 
changing very much. If only he could argue a point, could give some 
indication that he cared about proving himself right. Without a strong 
wish to show that he could do the job and win out over adversity, he was 
not likely to change. 

Time proved this prognosis to be correct. After three years the Western 
area had definitely established its inferiority to the Eastern. Sales were 
down and the sales force was disorganized and inadequately trained. 
Wayne had not changed at all, in spite of repeated efforts to help him. 
There was no alternative but to put him back in a sales position, a move 
which represented a sizable demotion. He appeared somewhat bitter 
when told of the change, but agreed it was the only thing to do. He 
should have done a better job as a sales manager. He should have forced 
himself to follow the advice of his superiors more closely. 

Sales Manager: Wayne Tindall 319 

Performance Analysis 

Wayne Tindall was not sufiRciently well informed regard- 
ing his company's sales programs and policies to perform his job in an 
entirely satisfactory manner. Among other things he lacked knowledge 
of policies dealing with expense accounts and staffing procedures, areas 
in which, as a sales manager, he could hardly afford to make many mis- 
takes. Although some of his difficulties in the intellectual sphere appear 
to reflect poor judgment, probably due to the intrusion of emotional reac- 
tions when he attempted to think through certain types of problems, he 
clearly did not possess sufficient job knowledge. This deficiency does not 
account for all aspects of his failure, but it was a major factor. 

It is always possible in such instances that the man may lack the men- 
tal competence required to learn the many aspects of his job in a reason- 
able period of time. Verbal or other special abilities may be insufficient. 
Wayne, however, was a college graduate, and he had manifested a capac- 
ity to learn very rapidly while in his original assignment as a salesman. 
His work in the advertising job had been entirely satisfactory. Although 
the intellectual demands of the sales-manager position were probably 
greater than anything he had faced before, it still seems almost certain 
that factors other than intelligence were largely responsible for his lack 
of knowledge. 

The most likely explanation is that he did not have sufficient training. 
Normally salesmen in the company were expected to work under close 
supervision for approximately three years before being considered fully 
qualified. Wayne took over major managerial responsibility after only 
eight months. The position in advertising could not have taught him 
much that he would need out in the field, and unfortunately it removed 
him from the selling end of the business for three very important years. 
Opportunities to learn what he should have known as a sales manager 
were without question severely restricted by the nature of his previous 

The deficiencies in judgment may have been nothing more than addi- 
tional instances of inadequate information. More probably, they may 
have reflected the impact of emotion on thinking. In any event there is 
considerable evidence indicating that emotional factors were strategic. 
Although before his promotion Wayne had been a relatively cool and col- 
lected person, this pattern disappeared, except as a surface fagade, once 
he moved into the managerial position. Outwardly he remained the same 

320 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

calm, friendly person. But a closer look indicates that a drastic change in 
fact occurred. Eventually he reached a point where he could not bring 
himself to discuss the work at all with his subordinates; the situation was 
too disturbing to him. As a result, new salesmen received very little indi- 
vidual coaching with respect to their performance, and the men did not 
really know whether they were doing satisfactory work or not. The con- 
stant checking with higher management almost certainly reflects a de- 
sire for reassurance against a pervasive fear of error. Anxiety is also evi- 
dent in Wayne's attempts to do his own work and most of his subordi- 
nates' work as well. 

But the most striking indication of emotional factors is the tendency to 
blame himself for everything that went wrong. The discussions with his 
superiors were full of self-condemnation. Everything was his fault. He 
could not seem to do anything to correct the many problem situations, 
but he did not question any of the judgments that were made regarding 
him and his performance. If anything, he embellished upon the criticisms 
of others. The picture suggests a man overcome with guilt, a man who at 
times evidently wanted to fail in the performance of his job in order to 
escape an intolerable situation. 

It is this guilt which seems to be behind much of Wayne's behavior as 
a sales manager. Although there must have been times when his emo- 
tion overwhelmed him, and thus made effective performance impossible, 
the more typical pattern appears to involve a continuing effort to escape 
from these disturbing experiences, an effort which was not integrated 
with job demands. This was his basic motive in the work situation. At 
times it almost appears to have been his only motive. His tendency to rise 
to the defense of his men even when such a reaction was totally unwar- 
ranted is understandable in this context. He seemed to view himself con- 
tinually as one of the salesmen rather than as their manager. Apparently, 
by escaping into the role of a subordinate he hoped to avoid the guilt 
that the managerial role provoked. In fact, he seemed to be constantly 
afraid that the salesmen would condemn him as a manager. He did al- 
most nothing that he thought might anger them. He would not criticize or 
reprimand. He continually did things himself, rather than tell his subor- 
dinates to do them. This tendency to take over and perform the work 
himself in order to avoid giving orders was most pronounced when the 
task was unpleasant or difficult. The result was that much of Wayne's 
own managerial work was left undone. The tasks taken over from the 
salesmen were not effectively performed either; a man cannot do every- 
thing himself. 

Toward the end this wish to escape the experience of guilt and anxiety 
appears to have evolved to the point where Wayne really wanted to fail 
and be removed from the job. This type of negative motivation usually 

Sales Manager: Wayne Tindall 321 

operates at the unconscious level, since the individual would not want to 
view himself as a quitter or as too weak to withstand a little anxiety. Yet 
the desire to get out of a situation which is terribly disturbing takes pre- 
cedence over nearly everything else. It is not as bad to fail on the job as it 
is to continue in it, especially if the person is completely unaware that a 
wish to fail is instrumental in his ineflFective performance. Although it is 
not certain from the evidence available that Wayne's behavior was guided 
by this kind of motivation, there is every reason to believe that it was. On 
the surface he appeared to be trying to do a good job, yet he did not ap- 
proach his work in a way that would seem to ofFer much chance of suc- 
cess. In spite of continual advice and guidance from those at higher 
levels, he maintained the same pattern of behavior inflexibly throughout 
the three years. He agreed with all criticisms, but he did nothing about 
them and gave the impression that he never would. 

Physical, family, and group factors do not seem to be strategic. Wayne 
had been an athlete for many years and was presumably in good physi- 
cal condition. There is no indication that he had any family problems. 
Throughout his career with the company he had been very popular; ev- 
eryone seemed to like him. In fact, it was this ability to get along with 
others that originally led to his being suggested as a supervisor. Eventu- 
ally some of his men became somewhat disenchanted with him because 
of his failure to provide adequate guidance. This, however, was a result 
of other factors and did not serve as a cause of failure. 

The company seems to have contributed in two ways, both of which 
have already been touched on briefly. For one thing, Wayne was pro- 
moted without adequate training. Although existing plans and policies 
called for approximately three years of instruction followed by several 
years of independent work as a salesman before a man moved up to 
managerial responsibility, Wayne had only eight months of directly rele- 
vant experience. Other factors operated to deprive him of an adequate 
opportunity to learn what he needed to know. He was older than most 
beginning salesmen, he had been a professional athlete, and his initial 
performance on the job was very impressive. These circumstances con- 
tributed to the company's conclusion that an exception to the usual pol- 
icies regarding training should be made in his case. Presumably, the short- 
age of personnel in advertising was also influential. In any event, he did 
not get the training a manager was normally expected to have and which 
he needed to perform eflFectively. 

There was a placement error in addition to this. Although adequate 
preparation would presumably have eliminated Wayne's intellectual dif- 
ficulties, the emotional and motivational problems would have remained. 
The fact that a person makes friends easily and appears to get along well 
with nearly everyone provides no basis for concluding that he will neces- 

322 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

sarily prove successful as a manager. The jump from the advertising po- 
sition to that of area sales manager was a sizable one. It appears that 
factors such as Wayne's popularity and his experience as a basketball 
player contributed in no small way to the decision to make the move. Un- 
fortunately, a much more important predictor of future performance was 
overlooked: Wayne never did give any indication that he was really in- 
terested in achieving success as a manager. 

The major stimulus which set off his guilt seems to have been the man- 
agerial situation. In fact the pattern of behavior suggests very strongly a 
subjective fear reaction similar to those discussed in Chapter 11. Wayne 
was not obsessed with guilt until he became a manager, and it was only 
then that he became ineffective. Previously he had been outstanding in 
nonsupervisory work. It is difficult to say exactly what the unacceptable 
impulses aroused by the managerial situation may have been. Presum- 
ably such factors as a desire to exercise power, pleasure in feeling supe- 
rior, and a wish to show off figured strongly in his motivational hierarchy, 
although, of course, at an unconscious level. Strongly held cultural 
values would then have led him to believe that egotism and a sense of 
superiority of this kind were bad and worthy of severe punishment. Un- 
fortunately we do not have the kind of information that would permit an 
exact reconstruction of the processes involved, but the fact of guilt and 
its impact on performance are clearly evident. 

This analysis provides a rather long list of strategic factors; intellectual, 
emotional, motivational, organizational, cultural, and situational deter- 
minants were all involved. The intellectual aspect could presumably have 
been rectified by more extended training. It would appear, however, 
that Wayne could not learn as long as he continued to face the emo- 
tional pressures of his managerial job. There were too many other prob- 
lems constantly demanding attention to permit him to stop and acquire 
the knowledge he needed. This means that it would have been necessary 
to relieve him of managerial responsibilities for a period of time, perhaps 
a year, so that he could devote his efforts entirely to making up for past 
deficiencies in training. 

Such an approach would, however, have supplied only a partial solu- 
tion. The personality problems associated with emotional, motivational, 
and cultural factors and stimulated by the managerial situation would 
still remain. These alone would have been sufficient to guarantee contin- 
ued failure. Since something had to be done immediately, in view of the 
continuing decline in sales throughout the Western area, a change in 
the situation seems to be the only short-term solution available. Wayne 
apparently wanted to escape from the environmental context which had 
provoked so much guilt and anxiety. A transfer to some type of work 
other than the managerial would seem to have provided the most appro- 

Sales Manager: Wayne Tindall 323 

priate method of satisfying his desires and thus solving the company's 
problem. It is unfortunate, in fact, that this move was delayed as long as 
it was. Not only was a great deal of business lost as a result of the 
three-year wait, but Wayne's successor was faced with the problem of 
revitalizing a poorly trained and sadly demoralized sales force. In addi- 
tion, higher marketing management had to devote a tremendous amount 
of time to the problems existing in the Western area and to the personal 
difficulties of the area's manager. 

The best long-term solution is probably also the one actually employed. 
Any change in Wayne's emotional patterns, motives, or values would have 
taken a long time, if it could have been accomplished at all. Yet the 
change had to be made immediately because of the declining product 
sales. Thus some type of transfer was imperative. But if this transfer re- 
sulted in an appropriate placement, and the demotion to a sales position 
would seem to provide such a solution, then all reasons and motives for 
personality change would probably disappear. Wayne's guilt would be 
reduced, his negative motivation minimized, and his performance im- 
proved. There would be no incentive for him to seek professional help 
or for his superior to attempt to change his behavior. This would pre- 
sumably mean that he would spend much of his life in actual selling 
rather than in managing, but a topflight salesman can contribute much 
more to a company than a completely ineffective manager. 

Case 12 



Hugh Greer got into consulting work rather late in life after 
a long career as an accountant. The change in occupation was not some- 
thing that he had planned in advance; it was one of those things that hap- 
pen to a man. After college, where he had majored in business adminis- 
tration, he had gone to work for an accounting firm. He remained there 
for over twenty years. The firm was relatively large, and Hugh became 
acquainted with a variety of business problems. In particular he devel- 
oped, under the urging of one of the partners, a considerable knowledge 
of cost accounting procedures. It was this knowledge that led him into the 
consulting field. The firm eventually established a separate manage- 
ment services division, and a number of the more experienced men were 
asked if they would like to shift from the traditional type of work to the 
job of counseling various firms on their accounting practices. 

The new positions oflFered many attractions — a new and developing 
field, somewhat higher pay, the opportunity to deal with intriguing prob- 
lems and to meet some of the leaders of American industry. Hugh's ex- 
pert knowledge of cost accounting made him particularly attractive to 
the man in charge of developing this new group, and he was strongly 
urged to make the change. He protested at first that he knew nothing 
about the kind of work that would be involved, but on being assured 
that he would get all the help he needed while learning and that there 
would always be an experienced man to assist in case of diflBculty, he de- 
cided to accept the position. 

Within a year he was approached by one of the major management 
consulting firms and after several talks received a very attractive oflFer. 

Management Consultant: Hugh Greer 325 

A long-time friend had recommended him. At first he demurred, pointing 
out that it was only in the last month or so that his present job had de- 
veloped to the point where he had to be out of town for any period. Prior 
to that he had never in his whole life done any consulting or even been 
called upon to work away from home for more than a day or so at a time. 
Certainly he was unproved as a traveling man and his consulting experi- 
ence was very limited. He felt that he did not possess the kind of back- 
ground the job required. The friend who had recommended him was 
very insistent, however, and so were the people from the consulting firm. 
They emphasized that he would be working, in most instances, as part of 
a team under the direction of a senior man. What was important was his 
knowledge of accounting and business conditions in general, not the de- 
gree to which he had traveled or his experience in identical work. Mrs. 
Greer agreed; she could see little point in turning down an opportunity 
to increase their income by such a sizable amount. Hugh capitulated 
rather quickly and accepted the job. 

For the first six months or so things went well. Hugh was away from 
home a great deal, since it was general policy to give the newer men the 
majority of the assignments requiring traveling. This did produce an oc- 
casional complaint. Other than that, however, he appeared entirely satis- 
fied. His performance was completely satisfactory although he was till 
in the process of learning certain aspects of the work. Actually the com- 
plaints about traveling were not very vehement. The consulting teams 
usually returned to the city on weekends, and that made it much easier. 
Nevertheless, he did worry about leaving his wife at home alone. Several 
times he mentioned to the man in charge of his group that he now had a 
little more appreciation of what people had gone through during the 
war. Not having had to serve in the Army himself, he had not realized 
how disturbing it could be for the members of a family to have to live 
apart for long periods of time. 

During the latter part of the year these complaints became somewhat 
more frequent, although Hugh never asked to be sent home from an as- 
signment or made any attempt to avoid working outside the city. It was 
evident, however, that he hated to be away from his wife. He often men- 
tioned how hard it was for her. At about the same time he also began to 
have some trouble with the work. Several times in checking over a com- 
pany's reports he failed to note information which subsequently proved 
important in developing the consulting team's recommendations. So far 
the results had not been too serious, since someone else had caught the 
errors, but there was always a question as to how much had gone unde- 
tected. Obviously Hugh was not pulling his weight. The men in charge 
of the jobs on which he worked were instructed to spend more time with 

326 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

him, partly to help him learn and partly to protect the firm against his 

The extent to which these instructions were actually followed varied 
considerably. The groups were specially constituted to deal with the prob- 
lems of a given client company. As a result Hugh found himself working 
under a variety of supervisors, the specific man depending on the nature 
of the job to be done. Some worked very closely with him, telling him 
exactly what had to be done and helping him as best they could. Under 
this kind of supervision he usually performed in a satisfactory manner — 
at least, the mistakes made were minimal. Other men, either because of 
the demands of the work or because of their own temperaments, were 
less precise in their specification of the job to be done and provided less 
assistance in other respects. The result was usually some inaccuracy or 
inadequacy in the accounting information provided to the rest of the 

Irrespective of the supervisory approach, however, it was generally 
agreed that Hugh was extremely touchy. He would fly off the handle over 
things that seemed too minor to bother anyone. He was particularly diffi- 
cult about accepting criticism. If he thought a remark implied any in- 
adequacy on his part, he immediately became defensive. Some of his 
alibis were totally unconvincing. Usually he adopted the policy that "the 
best defense is a good offense" and launched into an attack on his pre- 
sumed critic. Although the men in charge of the various groups came to 
expect this behavior whenever they found it necessary to criticize the 
accountant's work, it was very disconcerting to fellow workers and clients 
to find themselves censured in a response to what they had intended as a 
totally innocent remark. Luckily, Hugh was somewhat less likely to blow 
up in this manner when a representative of a client firm was present. 

As time went on, however, the irritability and the errors became an in- 
creasing problem. Frequently men would ask not to be sent out with 
Hugh, to the point where it was hard to put together a group if he was to 
be included. The men were afraid that he would make some unprovoked 
remark of a critical or sarcastic nature to a company man and thus turn 
the whole job into a fiasco. This had in fact happened on one occasion 
when he had been placed in charge of a three-man group sent out to in- 
troduce a cost accounting system in a medium-sized company. The com- 
pany had practically thrown the group out bodily after Hugh reacted to 
an imagined slight by commenting at great length on the "prehistoric" 
features of the accounting methods then in use. After that he was never 
again put in charge of a job. 

Finally things became so bad that he was called in by one of the senior 
men at the central office and told that if he did not change his ways in the 
next three months they would have to consider letting him go. After that 

Management Consultant: Hugh Greer 327 

the situation showed signs of improvement for a month or so, and Hugh 
even received a raise. Then it developed that in checking out a budget 
against actual expenditures, he had skipped a whole page and thus failed 
to note certain overexpenditures of which nearly everyone in the client 
company was aware. As a result the man in charge of the consulting job 
had made some rather silly statements and suggestions while talking to 
the company's oflBcers. The criticism which resulted was not a product of 
Hugh's imagination. He tried to say that the company had not provided 
him with adequate information, but a check revealed that this was not 
the case. He then accused those present of fabricating a situation in order 
to cast him in an unfavorable light. 

As a result of this episode he was again warned that if a considerable 
improvement did not occur in three months he would be discharged. He 
was shifted to another assignment and sent out under a different super- 
visor. At about this time Hugh apparently contacted his old accounting 
firm and asked for a job. The word that got back to the management 
consulting organization was that he had requested a position that 
would not require him to engage in management service activities. He 
wanted to get out of consulting because he felt the various men under 
whom he had to work, although they might be competent as consultants, 
characteristically provided totally inadequate supervision. In fact, they 
were impossible people to work for. There were a few of whom this was 
not true, but they were the exception rather than the rule. Within a month 
he rejoined the accounting firm. 

Performance Analysis 

Insofar as knowledge of accounting work was concerned, 
Hugh Greer had no difficulties. He was a good accountant with appropri- 
ate training and a strong background in costing procedures. Yet there 
were times when his judgment became rather poor, presumably as a re- 
sult of the impact of emotional factors on his decision making. He fre- 
quently used various kinds of intellective defenses against anxiety, with 
the consequence that his thinking was not always very objective. He im- 

328 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

agined many slights which were not intended. As a result there were a 
number of instances where conflicts arose between the consulting firm and 
its clients without there being any need for dissension at all. Sometimes 
clients were lost as a result. Hugh had a marked tendency to blame others 
for his own deficiencies, and in consulting work this kind of behavior al- 
most inevitably contributes to reduced efficiency. 

This propensity for distorting the true nature of a situation in accord- 
ance with his own wishes often made it possible for Hugh to express anger 
freely. Because of this, the company lost clients, and it became difficult 
to put together a group willing to go out with Hugh on a consulting job. 
"He would fly off the handle over things that seemed too minor to bother 
anyone." Criticism of any kind seemed to disturb him immensely. "If he 
thought a remark implied any inadequacy ... he immediately became 
extremely defensive." 

In addition to anger, anxiety was also strategic. Hugh was clearly up- 
set about his separation from his family and worried about his wife. This 
became an increasing source of distress as time went by. It seems to be 
associated with the errors which began to emerge during the latter part 
of his first year on the job. Apparently anxiety kept forcing its way into 
his mind, making it impossible for him to concentrate on his work. He 
skipped over important items because he could not really pay attention 
to what he was doing. He was too upset. 

As so often happens, the frustration of a strong motive appears to have 
been instrumental in provoking these emotional reactions. Hugh again 
and again indicated his desire for attention and help from others. He 
wanted someone to assist him in making decisions and to tell him what to 
do. When there was no one available to fulfill this need he became pan- 
icky and angry in turn. He was afraid of what might happen when he 
was forced to go ahead on his own in an independent manner, and he was 
angry over being deprived of the attention and help which he considered 
his due. 

This kind of motivation emerged first when Hugh was offered the new 
position in the management services division of the accounting firm. At 
first he declined. But later, after being assured that he would be given all 
the help he needed while learning, and that experienced men would al- 
ways be available to assist him, he accepted. When the job with the con- 
sulting firm was offered to him, he reacted in a similar manner. Initially 
he turned the position down because he felt he lacked the required knowl- 
edge and was not used to being on the road. But pressure and assurances 
of help changed his mind. He was told that there would always be a 
senior man available to help him and that he would work as part of a 
team rather than alone. Mrs. Greer wanted him to take the job. Her urg- 

Management Consultant: Hugh Greer 329 

ing and that of his friend finally induced him to capitulate. Obviously he 
was not a man to make decisions independently of others. 

The role of this desire for assistance in Hugh's ine£Fective performance 
as a consultant became particularly evident later, after those in charge of 
the various jobs on which he was employed were instructed to work more 
closely with him. When this was done and he received specific guidance, 
his performance was satisfactory. When his motives were blocked as a 
result of failure to get this kind of attention, errors began to appear. 
These problems became particularly acute on the one occasion when he 
was put in charge of a job and thus had no one to whom he could turn 
for help. As might be expected, Hugh's anger over being placed in such 
a frustrating position soon broke loose. He reacted violently to an im- 
agined attack upon himself, and the client was irretrievably lost. His 
major criticism of the consulting firm when he left was that he had re- 
ceived inadequate supervision. Presumably this meant that there had 
been insuflScient satisfaction of his intense desire to lean upon others. 

In spite of the fact that Hugh did not serve in the war and thus may 
have had a physical disorder which led to his being classified 4F, there 
is no reason to believe that factors of this kind were associated with the 
intellectual, emotional, and motivational difiiculties which have been 
noted. On the other hand, family and group determinants do appear to 
have played an important role in activating these individual factors. As 
already suggested, the separation from his wife was very upsetting to 
Hugh. Presumably she had helped him to make many of his decisions in 
the past, as she did the one which led to his joining the consulting firm. 
He had not experienced separation in wartime and had never been called 
upon to work away from home for any period before. 

The anxiety provoked by even the thought of separation is evident in 
his initial reaction when approached about the possibility of his accepting 
work which would require extensive travel. Later, when separation had 
actually occurred, he reacted to the frustration of his desire for the as- 
sistance and attention of his wife in a much more drastic manner. He be- 
came quite anxious and his work su£Fered badly. It is important to note, 
however, that his fears were transferred to another person in such a way 
as to protect himself against any need to recognize his own extreme de- 
pendence. He was not worried about himself. But he talked frequently 
about "how hard it was for her" and the problems associated with "leav- 
ing his wife at home alone." This is not an uncommon type of defense in 
such cases. 

Although Hugh's behavior eventually led to his being rejected by many 
of his coworkers, largely because working with him on a job was a risky 
business, this was not a cause of his failure. However, his relationships 

330 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

with his superiors were influential. Just as the separation from his wife 
frustrated his desires for her help and guidance, so tlie lack of a stable, 
close relationship with a supervisor made it difficult, if not impossible, to 
satisfy his motives within the work environment. The problems in this 
area appear to be of two kinds. One was the constantly shifting super- 
vision. Hugh wanted to be sure that there was always someone he could 
rely on to help him if necessary. But with different men in charge, depend- 
ing on the particular job, he never had a chance to develop a real feeling 
of security with anyone. Each new job presented a new source of anxiety 
because he could never be sure whether he could count on being helped 
or not. Secondly, there were long periods when he actually did not re- 
ceive the kind of supervision he wanted. Some of the men he worked for 
paid little attention to him and made him work largely on his own, thus 
provoking both fear and anger. The frustration that his relationships with 
his various supervisors produced is clearly evident in Hugh's statement 
at the time of leaving. "They were impossible to work for." 

The organizational contribution in this case was once again in the area 
of placement. The man was put in a situation where a strong mo- 
tive would inevitably be frustrated. As a result, emotional reactions were 
precipitated which in turn interfered with intellectual processes. The 
situation was inappropriate in that it separated him from his wife and 
thus from an important source of satisfaction for his dependent motiva- 
tion. It also deprived him of any possibility that he might experience the 
kind of stable, helping relationship with a superior that he required. Since 
these frustrations occurred entirely at the hands of important people in 
Hugh's environment, people who shared membership in the same groups 
with him, there is no reason to consider situational forces strategic. Simi- 
larly, his motives are of an individual nature. They do not derive from the 
society as a whole. 

The ideal solution in this case would, of course, have been not to have 
hired Hugh for work on the road in the first place. Yet prediction of his 
failure would not have been easy without more information about his 
motives and emotional patterns than the consulting firm possessed. The 
fact that he had never worked away from home complicated the prob- 
lem of prediction considerably. In any event, he was hired for this type of 
work, and the immediate problem is to determine what action might 
eliminate the difficulties which subsequently developed. 

Since the emotional and intellectual factors were a direct consequence 
of the motivational aspect, it would seem most appropriate to concen- 
trate on methods of satisfying the frustrated motives. What could be 
done to design a job in such a way as to provide Hugh with the things he 
wanted? One obvious answer is to restore the previous relationship with 
his wife. He had been an extremely effective employee for many years 

Management Consultant: Hugh Greer 331 

under conditions which permitted him to go home at night and talk 
things over with Mrs. Greer. There is every reason to beheve that he could 
be just as effective again if this condition were to be reestablished. 
Secondly, he wanted a single individual to whom he could report and 
who would be willing to give him guidance, reassurance, and attention 
as required; in other words, he wanted a friendly and very considerate 
manager. It is interesting to note that Hugh did not begin to fail until 
after he had spent six months on the road. During this initial period, he 
was learning the business and thus presumably received a good deal of 
attention. Also, later when he did happen to get a supervisor of the kind 
described, his performance improved. Things were at their worst when he 
himself was in charge of the work. 

Whether or not these changes could be accomplished within the frame- 
work of the existing job requires information beyond that which we pos- 
sess. Perhaps Mrs. Greer could have accompanied her husband on some 
of his trips, and perhaps he could have been assigned less work requiring 
him to be away overnight. Conceivably he could have been provided with 
the type of supervision he needed while he remained in a traveling posi- 
tion. The shifting-team approach to consulting employed by the firm 
would argue against this, however. The ideal solution would seem to be 
to transfer Hugh into a permanent position in the head office where his 
skills might be appropriately utilized. This, of course, might not be pos- 
sible. Consulting firms do not possess the kind of latitude in making place- 
ments that large corporations do. 

If all else failed, then — and only then — would it have been appropri- 
ate to let him return to the accounting firm. But it would seem that every 
possible alternative solution should have been fully investigated before 
this was permitted to happen. Accountants with the experience and 
knowledge that Hugh Greer possessed are not easily found. The consult- 
ing firm must have been well aware of this when it hired him originally, 
or the efforts to recruit him would not have been so intensive. Equally 
intense efforts should presumably have been made to keep him, and to 
place him in a position where he could employ his skills and knowledge 
to the fullest. 



As the reader has without doubt surmised, there is inherent 
in the approach which we have been taking a philosophy of management 
that di£Fers in several important respects from other currently popular 
positions. These diflFerences should now be made explicit. 

One widely held viewpoint places primary emphasis on the matter of 
employee motivation. Since coercive procedures, which rely heavily on 
negative sanctions and the anticipation of fear, have become less and less 
effective as instruments of managerial purpose, there has been an increas- 
ing concern with more positive methods of motivating employees. The 
tendency has been to stress group processes and to establish a work en- 
vironment where pleasure and satisfaction might be more widely antici- 
pated. Thus, the basic intent has been to develop procedures which might 
induce all employees, at all levels of effectiveness, to contribute more 
fully to organizational objectives. This is the essence of the human-re- 
lations movement. The assumption has been that more efficient methods 
of achieving company goals can best be found through a social psychol- 
ogy of industry. The group as a whole must be motivated through positive 
means to make a greater contribution. 

A second type of managerial philosophy has tended to emphasize hu- 
man characteristics and abilities rather than motivation, but has retained 
a concern with improving performance generally, irrespective of the exist- 
ing level of effectiveness. Basically this is an experimental psychology of 
industry. It views human engineering and optimal design of the work- 
place as the ideal routes to increased eflRciency. If management can con- 
struct a work milieu specifically adapted to the physical and intellectual 
nature of the human beings who will be asked to perform in it, then siz- 
able increases in productivity can be expected. All workers will improve 
in effectiveness, just as with the social-psychological approach, but in this 
instance it is the nature of the physical working situation, rather than 


334 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

some aspect of the employees themselves, which is changed in order to 
achieve such a result. 

It has been shown that both these viewpoints have relevance for man- 
agement. Both can contribute to increased efficiency of manpower 
utilization. If they are to be criticized at all, it must be primarily on the 
ground that their proponents have occasionally tended to underestimate 
the potentialities of other managerial philosophies. 

Certainly there is nothing in this book to suggest that efforts along the 
lines proposed by these social and experimental psychologies should be 
abandoned and all energies devoted instead to the procedures described 
here. Nevertheless, our approach, which might be designated a clinical 
psychology of industry, does take a very different tack. For one thing, the 
concern is specifically with those employees who need to improve their 
performance most. The emphasis is on producing a major improvement 
in the work done by a relatively small group of people, rather than on 
bringing about a much smaller change in the achievements of a very large 
number. In addition, this clinical approach does not restrict itself to one 
type of factor such as the motivational or situational. It deals with any 
factor which might contribute to unsatisfactory performance. 

Since these various management philosophies are in no sense mutually 
exclusive, there is little to be gained by arguing about their rela- 
tive merits. Actually, we do not know which approach can at present 
produce the largest increase in productivity, nor do we know which offers 
the greatest potential for future advances in managerial technique. How- 
ever, the sum derived from the three will inevitably be much greater than 
that obtained from any one alone. The ideal approach is unquestionably 
to use as many proved and nonoverlapping methods of increasing out- 
put as possible. 

The important point with reference to the philosophy underlying this 
book is that in most companies a great many ineffective performers are 
retained without any action being taken long after their difficulties first 
become evident. Nothing is done to bring about a change in the affected 
dimensions of performance, largely because no one seems to know just 
what to do. Although perhaps in past years such individuals were char- 
acteristically fired as soon as they dropped below established standards, 
this is not the case today. Some, of course, are separated rather quickly, 
and others are dismissed after varying periods of continued failure, but 
there are many who remain indefinitely with only a minimum contribu- 
tion to the firm. Again and again employees who have been considered 
unsatisfactory for years are noted as "not recommended for rehire" on 
their termination reports when they finally do leave the company; yet 
nothing was done about them during their long period of ineffectiveness. 
If a company were to devote a major effort to solving this problem, 

Organizational Implications 335 

there is little doubt that a great increase in productivity would result. And 
at the same time considerable managerial time would become free — time 
which could be devoted to the implementation of other managerial phi- 

Much of this final chapter will be dedicated to a discussion of the vari- 
ous considerations that must be taken into account in mounting such an 
attack on ineffective performance. Before dealing with this topic, how- 
ever, we will devote a brief section to the extent of performance failure 
and to the relative incidence of the various types of strategic factors. 

The Prevalence of Ineffective Performance and of Its Causes 

The first question to be considered is the incidence of ineffective per- 
formance itself, irrespective of cause. How widespread is failure of this 
kind? Data that might provide an answer are very limited, a fact which 
is not entirely without its positive aspects. Any overall statistics are 
bound to be misleading insofar as specific companies and work groups 
are concerned. From the discussion of potential strategic factors in the 
preceding chapters, it should be clear that there are a great many condi- 
tions operating to determine whether unsatisfactory performance will be 
prevalent or rare in a given situation. The incidence can run from prac- 
tically nil to well over 50 percent of a group. 

Actually, the only information available regarding the overall fre- 
quency of performance failure was obtained in connection with a na- 
tional survey of a cross section of the employed males in the United States. 
The men were asked to evaluate their own level of competence (39). 
Although data of this kind cannot be considered definitive in any sense, 
since self -estimates of job effectiveness need not coincide with managerial 
estimates, they are of some interest. 

The men were asked to describe their jobs and then respond to the 
question, "How good would you say you are at doing this kind of work?" 
The interviewers offered four alternatives from which the respondent 
was to pick one: very good, a little better than average, just average, not 
very good. The last two (just average and not very good) appeared to 
indicate some recognition of inadequacy on the job, and therefore the 
two responses were combined for purposes of analysis. This procedure 
may well have resulted in an overestimate of the incidence of true per- 
formance failure, since many responding with "just average" may be re- 
flecting a satisfactory work record. On the other hand, in answering ques- 
tions such as this, people tend to exaggerate their own competence some- 
what. Thus, many of the "just average" responses may really mean "not 
very good." Probably the figures derived from this study do represent 
something of an overestimate insofar as the true frequency of perform- 

336 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

ance failure is concerned, but the exaggeration is not likely to be excessive. 
In fact, the figures for the higher-level occupations would appear to be 
very nearly correct, if we keep in mind that a man can be unsatisfactory 
in certain aspects of his work and need not be a total failure to be con- 
sidered ineffective. 

Among professionals and technicians, the percent indicating some sense 
of inadequacy was 13. This arose to 21 among managers and supervisors 
of all kinds, to 25 among clerical workers, and to 31 among sales 
workers. The figures for blue-collar employees show a similar rise with 
decreasing occupational level. Among the skilled the percentage was 29; 
among the semiskilled, 34; and among the unskilled, 38. Probably the 
figures for those occupations which generally carry less esteem are in part 
influenced by the respondents' evaluations of their jobs per se rather than 
of their performance in those jobs. An unknown number may be reflect- 
ing a feeling that merely to be working in the type of position they hold 
is prima-facie evidence of incompetence. This factor may well serve to 
inflate the percentages for lower-level occupations to some degree. It is in- 
teresting to note that only 8 percent of the college-educated men had 
serious doubts about their effectiveness, while the figures were 30 and 34 
for the high school and grade school groups respectively. This finding is 
consistent with the previously stated conclusion that performance failure 
is least common at the upper levels of the organization. It is, of course, 
also most important when it does occur there. 

If we turn now to the various types of strategic factors, the major 
source of available information is a previously unpublished study con- 
ducted by the writer under a research grant from the Western Manage- 
ment Science Institute. This study, which was carried out in 1961, was 
based on a rather smaU and restricted sample. The group numbered only 
forty. The conclusions which follow are derived from that study, supple- 
mented by the writer's experience in working on problems related to in- 
effective performance over a period of almost fifteen years. Although 
more exact data are certainly desirable, these estimates should prove help- 
ful. It appears improbable that the major trends and conclusions would 
be reversed by more extensive research. 

The most frequent contributor to performance failure is unquestion- 
ably the company itself. In general, causation of this kind can be 
expected in some 80 to 90 percent of all cases. Almost invariably 
when the company is a factor, it is coupled with some other strategic 
cause, most commonly one classifiable as intellectual, emotional, or mo- 
tivational, or else one associated with a work group. About three-quar- 
ters of these cases with organizational determinants seem to involve some 
type of personnel placement error. In work with people who have proved 
unsatisfactory, this factor appears with amazing frequency. Again and 

Organizational Implications 337 

again one is faced with the question: How in the world did this individ- 
ual get himself into this kind of job in the first place? 

Emotional and motivational factors seem to occur with about equal 
frequency, in some 60 to 70 percent of all cases. Probably the incidence 
is so high because difficulties associated with the use of the available 
measurement procedures result in failure to attempt any real screening 
of applicants along emotional and motivational lines. Within the emo- 
tional category, the most prevalent cause is anxiety or fear. Although 
intense and disruptive experiences of this kind can, of course, occur quite 
independently of emotional disorder, it seems probable that the continu- 
ing reactions most frequently found in conjunction with performance 
failure will usually appear as part of a neurosis. When we consider how 
many people suffer from emotional disorders, the very large contribution 
made by conditions of this kind to ineffectiveness is not really surprising. 

As part of the nationwide survey mentioned previously (39), respond- 
ents were asked if they had ever had a feeling of impending nervous 
breakdown — a term generally synonymous with emotional disorder. Al- 
though the use of such self -reports can be presumed to result in an under- 
estimation of the true figures, the percentages are still amazingly high. 
About one-fifth of the adult population responded affirmatively to this 
question ( 12 percent of the males and 25 percent of the females ) . Simi- 
larly, approximately 16 percent reported very frequent experiences of anx- 
iety and nervousness ( 10 percent of the males and 20 percent of the fe- 
males). Presumably cultural proscriptions against fear, cowardice, and 
weakness kept many males from reporting their experiences with com- 
plete veracity. 

It probably comes as no surprise to most managers that motivational 
problems also occur very frequently. There has, in fact, been some tend- 
ency to assume that nearly all performance failure is attributable to mo- 
tivational deficiency. This has been, historically at least, particularly true 
among the military. Fortunately such views have not generally prevailed. 
If they had, a great many more intellectually and physically deficient in- 
dividuals would be emotionally disturbed today. Nevertheless, motiva- 
tional determinants do contribute to failure with much higher frequency 
than many other factors, although often in conjunction with them. Within 
the motivational sphere a large proportion of the cases — well over 50 per- 
cent — appears to involve some kind of blocking or frustration of a domi- 
nant personal motive (success, freedom from failure, dominance, atten- 
tion, etc. ) by forces within the job context. 

The next most frequent major categories seem to be the groups at work 
and the various situational forces, each of which appears roughly 30 to 
40 percent of the time. Among the different aspects of the group which 
can operate to cause failure, managerial actions of one kind or another 

338 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

appear to be the most common. The usual reaction to a manager whose 
behavior borders on the ineffective is motivational. Subordinates do not 
want to work hard for him, or they feel no particular need to do so. This, 
in addition to the fact that other group factors such as cohesion are 
closely allied with motivation, accounts for the frequently observed re- 
lationship between the two types of determinants. It has been the writer's 
experience that the presence of a group factor provides very good evi- 
dence for the supposition that motivation will also emerge. The probabil- 
ity of occurrence is of tlie same high order as that for some type of organ- 
izational factor (personnel placement in particular) when intellectual, 
emotional, motivational, or group factors are found. 

Different situational forces tend to become strategic under differing 
conditions. These causes probably vary more among jobs than any other 
group of strategic factors. In the writer's experience subjective danger 
reactions have clearly predominated, but this may be merely because he 
has been consulted in connection with a disproportionately large number 
of cases involving management personnel. Where the work is unusually 
dangerous, or the contact with competing companies extremely close ( as 
in sales work), other situational factors are much more likely to prevail. 

Family ties and cultural values emerge relatively rarely, probably in 
10 to 20 percent of all cases. This rather low rate appears to be attribut- 
able to self-selection. Presumably a number of people who might suffer 
from separation anxiety if exposed to the right conditions simply do not 
get involved in work which they believe will be emotionally disturbing. 
Nor do they have any desire to break family ties which have been a major 
source of satisfaction. Similarly, those who anticipate a possible conflict 
between the particular cultural values they hold and certain job demands 
are likely to make their occupational choices accordingly. They choose 
careers which are not inconsistent with their beliefs regarding right and 

Two major areas have been deliberately excluded from this listing, 
primarily because the writer is uncertain whether generalization from his 
experience would be justified. Both intellectual and physical factors have 
appeared in less than 25 percent of the cases he has seen, but these figures 
have been obtained using data collected almost entirely in companies 
which employ psychological and physical examinations as part of their 
screening procedures. There is every reason to believe that the role of in- 
tellectual factors, especially of insufficient verbal ability, was held to a 
minimum by the use of general intelligence tests. These tests were used 
not only to select and place new employees but also to guide many sub- 
sequent transfer and promotion decisions. Without them the contribution 
of intellectual factors to performance failures would have been consider- 
ably greater; how much greater is impossible to say. 

Organizational Implications 339 

The estimate for physical factors is restricted even more by the condi- 
tions under which it was obtained. In companies which have fully staffed 
medical departments, cases of performance failure attributable to physi- 
cal illness are not likely to come to the attention of psychologists or other 
personnel men who might normally handle ineffectives with other kinds 
of diflSculties. If the man is physically sick, he is put in contact with a 
physician and the medical department assumes responsibility. Since the 
writer has worked primarily with companies which have medical depart- 
ments and which give physical examinations prior to employment, he 
must have seen a considerably smaller sample of people in whom physi- 
cal factors were strategic than would have been the case otherwise. All 
he can say is that where a medical department exists and physical exami- 
nations are used in selection and placement, the incidence of the remain- 
ing nonmedical physical problems should run no higher than 10 to 20 

To take these estimates as a whole, it would appear that the average 
number of strategic factors operating in any one instance is roughly four. 
As previously indicated, the range can be from one, which is rare, to at 
least as high as eight. Of course there may sometimes be more than one 
strategic factor within a single major area. The writer has yet to see an 
instance in which all nine types of cause have actually contributed to a 
single failure. Although difficulties may be present in all areas, some of 
them have always proved to be unrelated to performance and thus not 
truly strategic. 

Organization to Reduce Ineffective Performance 

It is apparent that one way a company can reduce performance failure 
is through wise investment in the personnel selection and placement func- 
tion. The company that hires qualified specialists with a knowledge of the 
available tools, that uses these people effectively rather than merely put- 
ting them on the payroll, and that conducts an adequate program of re- 
search into its own selection needs, can without question achieve a siz- 
able reduction in the number of unsatisfactory employees. 

The potential, and the need, associated with this kind of investment 
is dramatically illustrated by the figures quoted in the preceding section. 
At a very minimum, 60 percent of all performance failure appears to have 
some kind of personnel placement error as a contributory cause. In a great 
many companies the percentage can be presumed to run much higher 
than 60. Rates of this kind are not necessary. Currently available pro- 
cedures and techniques in the hands of qualified practitioners, coupled 
with good development research, can easily bring about a substantial 

340 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

reduction in the number of people who fail because of incorrect place- 
ment decisions. 

As pointed out in Chapter 1, however, screening and selection cannot 
provide a complete answer. There will be ineflFectives even with sizable 
and sensible investment in the personnel functions related to placement. 
This means that a large part of the problem becomes the property of each 
manager. At this level the use of performance analyses and appropriate 
solutions can achieve a major reduction. Throughout this book there has 
been repeated mention of the various means a manager can employ, 
either personally or in conjunction with experts, to bring a subordinate 
up to a satisfactory level. 

But performance failure, although basically a problem for the indi- 
vidual manager, is also an organizational problem. A man who fails in 
one part of the company may succeed in another part. The action taken 
by a single manager with regard to one ineffective subordinate can pro- 
duce reverberations throughout the firm (and the union). Firing may 
represent a first-class solution from the viewpoint of the individual su- 
perior but a terrible waste insofar as the company is concerned. This raises 
a question as to whether the ideal effort aimed at reducing performance 
failure should not include a group or individual having as a primary re- 
sponsibility the implementation of performance analyses in the company 
as a whole. The writer believes that such a group is highly desirable. It 
may, in fact, be absolutely necessary if maximal effort to keep the num- 
ber of unsatisfactory employees at a low level is to be maintained over 
an extended period. 

There are several reasons for this conclusion. Throughout the preceding 
chapters there have been occasional references to projective, intelHgence, 
muscular-dexterity, and other types of tests which can prove extremely 
helpful in determining why failure has occurred. The majority of these 
require considerable specialized knowledge and training if they are to be 
used correctly. It is largely for this reason that the book has contained so 
little reference to them, since the major concern has been to convey the 
kind of information that most managers can use and to discuss techniques 
that they can employ themselves. However, these tests can certainly be of 
help. One of the great advantages of having a special performance analy- 
sis group is that the members would be qualified to provide testing as- 
sistance to individual managers. In this way greater accuracy in carrying 
out the diagnostic process can be assured. In some very diflBcult cases, an 
understanding of the strategic factors can be developed which might even 
be totally lacking otherwise. This is not to say that all cases require psy- 
chological testing. Many times it is clearly not necessary, but there are at 
least as many other times where benefits could be derived from the use of 
appropriate tests. 

Organizational Implications 341 

The approach to the use of psychological measurement and evaluation 
advocated here is, of course, quite different from what has been tradi- 
tional in the personnel field. Tests have characteristically been developed 
and used for selection — that is, for predicting who will succeed and who 
will fail. Within clinical psychology, however, it has been common practice 
for years to employ tests not so much to predict as to gain a better under- 
standing of ongoing processes. In essence, this is what is being recom- 
mended here: that tests be used to investigate the motives, abilities, 
skills, emotions, etc., which have contributed to a present failure. Such a 
procedure would appear to be at least as important an application of psy- 
chological testing in the business world, and in the occupational sphere 
generally, as the more traditional use in connection with selection. Per- 
haps in the long run it will prove much more important. 

Besides providing specialized assistance in the area of testing, a group 
of the kind discussed could actually carry out complete performance 
analyses and report the results to the appropriate manager. This might 
be desirable where the manager had just taken over a new group contain- 
ing several clearly ineffective subordinates. Under such conditions he 
would presumably be unfamiliar with the men, yet he might wish to act 
as quickly as possible. An experienced person with appropriate training 
and knowledge of information-gathering techniques could carry out the 
needed performance analyses in a few days. Personnel files, psychological 
testing, interviews, and discussions with superiors can provide a qualified 
specialist with a tremendous amount of data from which to develop plans 
for action. Performance analyses can also be carried out to assist man- 
agers who might wish to obtain a check on their own conclusions while 
they are in the process of learning the techniques described in this book. 

As previously noted, there are some otherwise very effective managers 
who have considerable trouble understanding the reasons and experi- 
ences behind the actions of others. Confronted with cases like those de- 
scribed in the preceding chapter, especially the later ones, such people 
might be unable to come up with any clear cut idea of the strategic fac- 
tors operating. Under such circumstances the services a performance 
analysis group can provide would appear to be almost essential. Similar 
assistance can be given to any manager who is faced with a particularly 
complex and difficult case. There are times when even a person with con- 
siderable experience and professional training can run into a long series 
of blind alleys. Certainly when the case is unusually difficult, it is helpful 
for a manager to have someone who has been devoting all his time to this 
sort of thing available for consultation. 

Another fact which has led the writer to conclude that a special group 
is desirable is associated with the rapid rate of change and progress in the 
social sciences. It is important that some individual or group be respon- 

342 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

sible for keeping up with advances in related knowledge. In part, this 
involves new discoveries and theories bearing on performance analysis it- 
self. Also, however, it involves improvements and innovations in the 
area of available solutions. The latter may currently be the more impor- 
tant of the two, since a major emphasis on the evaluation of alternative 
approaches to corrective action appears to be developing at the present 
time. A group of specialists in performance analysis has the advantage 
that it can take on the duty of keeping management as a whole informed 
regarding advances in knowledge which should be brought to its atten- 
tion. New information can be passed on through special memos or 
through periodic meetings. 

This raises a question regarding the role of managerial training in deal- 
ing with problems of ineflFective performance. It is of course possible that 
merely reading a book such as this will prove entirely suflBcient. From his 
experience in teaching the techniques of performance analysis to both 
practicing managers and business school students, the writer must register 
some doubt, however. There are people who grasp the techniques very 
rapidly and seem amazingly adept in applying what they have learned. 
They probably do not need any more training than they can obtain from 
books alone. But probably the majority want very much to discuss the 
material with someone. They feel strongly that, for them at least, real 
understanding is possible only when there has been a chance to ask ques- 
tions, sometimes a great many questions, and to see the techniques ap- 
plied to a case with which they are personally familiar. Training sessions 
and discussions, in addition to reading, can do a great deal to increase the 
individual supervisory skills of these managers. Some people appear to be 
more visually oriented; they learn best by reading. But probably the ma- 
jority prefer to hear and to talk. It is among these latter people that the 
training offered by a performance analysis group has its greatest value. 
The presence of qualified specialists can therefore be an asset in giving 
managers who lack experience with the techniques the knowledge and 
assistance required to handle problems of performance failure ade- 

A final point deserves mention. A performance analysis group can con- 
duct research in a number of areas having implications for the job per- 
formance of company employees. Possible new corrective procedures 
can be evaluated; specific jobs can be studied in terms of performance- 
relevant factors. It is doubtful that many studies of this kind will be con- 
ducted if no such group is in existence. 

It is important to emphasize that the functions to be rendered by a per- 
formance analysis unit are not now being carried out by any single group 
on the typical company organization chart. Industrial psychologists are 
doing this type of work, but there is no one slot within the organization 

Organizational Implications 343 

from which they ply their trade. Most are dealing with a great many other 
things in addition, and are forced to treat the handling of performance 
failures as a sideline. 

Many of the related specialized areas of personnel administration are 
organized in terms of specific methods and techniques (training, job 
analysis, and management appraisal are examples) rather than problem 
areas. As a consequence it is diflBcult to fit an approach which may re- 
quire the use of any one of a great many different techniques, depending 
on the circumstances, into the existing personnel or industrial relations 
department framework. To put performance analysis into any of the tra- 
ditional groups would seriously distort their present functioning. Be- 
cause of these considerations, as well as certain difficulties associated with 
reporting relationships which will be taken up shortly, it appears impera- 
tive that performance analyses be conducted by a separate group. Other- 
wise there is a real possibility that the performance analysis unit might 
have to operate with its wings so severely clipped that there would be no 
possibility of flight. Should such a restriction appear absolutely essential 
because of other considerations, it seems best that the investment not 
be made at all. There are already an excessive number of groups and in- 
dividuals in the business world (and in the governmental as well) per- 
forming on what amounts to a token basis because certain crucial battles 
of an intracompany conflict were lost many years before. 

Where a performance analysis group might best be placed in the or- 
ganization depends on many factors which are unique to specific firms 
and groups of firms. It would be pointless to attempt a categorical answer 
here. The major consideration is that there be complete freedom to work 
closely with the immediate superior of any man who is failing. Because 
the problems involved are often of a very personal nature, and for other 
reasons as well, it is essential that the performance analyst be in a posi- 
tion to carry out his duties without being bound by many of the usual 
restrictions inherent in reporting relationships. He cannot communicate 
with the manager who has direct responsibility for the performance of 
the ineffective man through several levels of the company hierarchy; he 
must deal directly with the individual who has firsthand knowledge of the 
problem. To attempt to effect a performance analysis while working 
through a series of intermediaries is merely to invite misunderstanding 
and failure. This normally presents no particular problem insofar as first 
line managers, such as foremen and sales supervisors, are concerned. 
But it may raise some questions if, for instance, the ineffective man is a 
top vice-president and his immediate superior the president of the com- 

There appear to be two possible ways of handling the situation. One 
approach is to attach the performance analysis group to the president's 

344 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

office, making the man in charge of the group directly accountable to the 
chief executive. From this position there should be no difficulty in work- 
ing with managers at all levels. Another approach involves finding some 
spot for the group within a specific department, such as industrial rela- 
tions, but specifying that wherever it may be located, special conditions 
regarding reporting relationships will be established. Actually, all that is 
needed is an understanding that performance analysts must be free to 
communicate with managers anywhere in the firm, irrespective of level, 
insofar as this is necessary to implement job responsibiHties. There is 
a precedent for this type of arrangement in the way medical departments 
operate in many companies. 

Having decided that it does in fact wish to take the steps necessary to 
mount a full-scale attack on performance failure along the lines described, 
a company must still deal with the problem of who should staff the jobs 
in the performance analysis group. What kind of educational and experi- 
ence background is needed? Let us attempt to sketch an ideal portrait, 
with full realization that few individuals may actually fit this model. On 
the educational side, considerable training in psychology at the graduate 
level appears absolutely essential. The crucial courses are those in the in- 
dustrial, clinical, and social areas, in addition to personality theory, tests 
and measurements ( including projective techniques ) , and learning theory. 
Many of the other courses in the traditional graduate program in psy- 
chology are not relevant, although a background in research design and 
statistics is definitely desirable. Some training in sociology and anthro- 
pology is also needed. Here the requirements are not as extensive as in 
psychology, but they are no less important. Industrial sociology, organi- 
zation theory, the family, criminology, and something in the area of cul- 
tural patterns and values appear to be crucial. 

Actually, much of the material covered by these courses in psychology 
and sociology may be included in a program of graduate study in busi- 
ness administration. This depends on the specific school attended and the 
courses taken. Certain aspects of industrial psychology, social psychology, 
industrial sociology, and organization theory are particularly likely to be 
part of professional school training. There are, however, some other sub- 
jects which are characteristically taught only in schools of business that 
need to be included in our required curriculum. Business organization 
and management, personnel administration, and labor relations should 
be represented by at least one course each. Ideally there would be more 
extensive coverage. 

It should be understood that the emphasis here is on knowledge rather 
than course work per se. An experienced teacher, researcher, or practi- 
tioner may have acquired considerable information in many of these areas 
without having participated in formal study. Nevertheless, it seems prob- 

Organizational Implications 345 

able that most of the required knowledge would have to be obtained as 
part of a program of graduate training, and that this study should have 
been extensive enough to result in at least a master's degree and probably 
a doctorate. 

Yet this academic training is not of itself likely to be sufficient. The 
ideal, fully quahfied man should have had experience in a staff position 
with some kind of business organization and have performed creditably 
in that work. He should also be well informed regarding the company 
in which he is to work and its people, including such matters as details 
of organization, specific job requirements, traditions and history, factions, 
and managerial characteristics. Much of this information will, of course, 
have to be learned after hiring. 

Quite obviously there are very few individuals who fit this pattern. 
Probably those who come closest are people who have had graduate 
training in either industrial psychology, industrial sociology, or clinical 
psychology, but many of these will lack crucial requirements. A large 
percentage of the industrial psychologists being graduated from the doc- 
toral programs of the major universities have only a slight acquaintance 
with the techniques of clinical psychology and no background at all in 
either sociology or labor relations. Industrial sociologists are likely to lack 
knowledge in many of the areas of psychology, particularly with regard 
to tests and measurement procedures. They are usually qualified in social 
psychology, however, and customarily have a good background in the 
business administration subject areas other than personnel administration. 
The clinical psychologists will characteristically be lacking in knowledge 
which is specifically related to the business world. Almost without excep- 
tion they will lack training in the business administration areas and in 
much of the sociology, especially that which deals specifically with in- 
dustry. They may or may not have some exposure to industrial psychol- 
ogy; most will not. Fortunately, there are also a number of interdiscipli- 
nary mavericks whose degrees can well be in almost any social science 
or business area. A few of these people do fit our ideal pattern almost per- 

All this means that one will have to search cautiously among prospects, 
and offer attractive salaries, in order to staff a performance analysis group 
with competent people. There is, however, another obstacle which has 
not yet been mentioned, an obstacle of which most companies hiring 
large numbers of social scientists are well aware. A number of people 
who have graduate degrees from university social science departments, 
such as psychology and sociology, and who have not had several years of 
successful industrial experience, hold strong liberal values. They are really 
quite opposed to the American business system as it now exists. The job 
of the performance analyst, like that of the manager, is basically to help 

346 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

employees contribute more effectively to company objectives and thus to 
increase company profits within the framework of a capitalistic system. 
The potential for value conflict is obvious. There is a real chance that in- 
dividuals who hold strong liberal behefs will become ineffective them- 
selves, with cultural values playing the strategic role. For their own good 
and that of the company, they should be discouraged from seeking em- 
ployment in the business world. The probability of failure is far too high. 
Fortunately, there are many other qualified people who are unlikely to 
experience difficulties of this kind. 

Of course, many firms may, because of their size and other factors, pre- 
fer to employ outside consultants in performance analysis rather than 
establish a permanent group within the company. It is important to keep 
in mind, however, that a performance analyst does not really begin to pay 
his way until he has become fully informed regarding the company and 
has gotten to know a high percentage of those in management. For this 
reason any consulting relationship should be a relatively permanent one. 
"Hit and run" service from an outside source may be of some help in the 
area of diagnosis, but really adequate solutions will be few. If the consult- 
ing organization cannot provide assurance that the men assigned to the 
job will spend a sizable amount of their time on the company premises, 
then it probably should not be engaged. Also, it is just as important that a 
consultant possess the qualifications previously noted as that a perform- 
ance analyst on the regular payroll possess them. Unfortunately, among 
the various firms providing services in the areas of general management 
and psychological applications, there are only a few which are adequately 
staffed for this purpose at present. 

Throughout the book, published books and articles have been cited 
by using numbers in parentheses. These references have been grouped 
on the following pages to correspond with the nine types of strategic 
factors discussed in Chapters 2 through 10. The reader who wishes to 
inform himself more fully in any of the various areas should find the 
titles listed particularly helpful. 


1. Capps, H. M.: Vocabulary Changes in Mental Deterioration, Archives of 
Psychology, 1939, Vol. 34, No. 242. 

2. Cowan, Lawrence, and Morton Goldman: The Selection of the Mentally 
Deficient for Vocational Training and the Effect of This Training on 
Vocational Success, Journal of Consulting Psychology, 1959, Vol. 23, 78- 

3. Garfield, Sol L., and Libby Blek: Age, Vocabulary Level, and Mental 
Impairment, Journal of Consulting Psychology, 1952, Vol. 16, 395-398. 

4. Ghiselli, Edwin E.: The Measurement of Occupational Aptitude. Berkeley, 
Calif. : University of California Press, 1955. 

5. Ginzberg, Eli, and Douglas W. Bray: The Uneducated. New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1953. 

6. Ginzberg, Eli, James K. Anderson, Sol W. Ginsburg, John L. Herma, 
Douglas W. Bray, William Jordan, and Francis J. Ryan: The Ineffective 
Soldier: Vol. Ill, Patterns of Performance. New York: Columbia Univer- 
sity Press, 1959. 

7. Greenhalgh, A. J. : Talent Erosion, Australian Journal of Psychology, 1949, 
Vol. 1, 11-25. 

8. Hagen, Elizabeth P., and Robert L. Thorndike: Normative Test Data for 
Adult Males Obtained by House-to-House Testing, Journal of Educational 
Psychology, 1955, Vol. 46, 207-216. 

9. Hebb, Donald O.: The Organization of Behavior. New York: John Wiley 
& Sons, Inc., 1949. 

10. Hilgard, Ernest R.: Theories of Learning. New York: Appleton-Century- 
Crofts, Inc.. 1956. 

11. Kagan, Jerome, Lester W. Sontag, Virginia L. Nelson, and Charles T. 
Baker: Personality and I.Q. Change, Journal of Abnormal and Social 
Psychology, 1958, Vol. 56, 261-266. 

12. Miner, John B.: Intelligence in the United States. New York: Springer 
Publishing Company, Inc., 1957. 


348 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

13. Miner, John B.: On the Use of a Short Vocabulary Test to Measure 
General Intelligence, Journal of Educational Psychology, 1961, Vol. 52, 

14. Miner, John B., and John E. Culver: Some Aspects of the Executive Per- 
sonality, Journal of Applied Psychology, 1955, Vol. 39, 348-353. 

15. Moran, Louis J., Donald R. Gorham, and Wayne W. Holtzman: Vocab- 
ulary Knowledge and Usage of Schizophrenic Subjects: A Six-year Follow- 
up, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1960, Vol. 61, 246-254. 

16. Owens, WiUiam A.: Age and Mental Abilities: A Longitudinal Study, 
Genetic Psychology Monographs, 1953, Vol. 48, 3-54. 

17. Patterson, Donald G., C.d'A. Gerken, and Milton E. Hahn: Revised Min- 
nesota Occupational Rating Scales. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota 
Press, 1953. 

18. Roen, Sheldon R.: PersonaHty and Negro-White Intelligence, Journal of 
Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1960, Vol. 61, 148-150. 

19. Sontag, Lester W., Charles T. Baker, and Virginia L. Nelson: Mental 
Growth and Personality Development, Monographs of the Society for 
Research on Child Development, 1958, Vol. 23, No. 68. 

20. Sward, Keith: Age and Mental Ability in Superior Men, American Journal 
of Psychology, 1945, Vol. 58, 443-479. 

21. Terman, Lewis M., and Melita H. Oden: The Gifted Group at Mid-life. 
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1959. 

22. Thorndike, Robert L., and Elizabeth Hagen: Ten Thousand Careers. New 
York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1959. 

23. Thorpe, Louis P.: Child Psychology and Development. New York: The 
Ronald Press Company, 1955. 

24. Tuddenham, Read D.: Soldier Intelligence in World Wars I and II, The 
American Psychologist, 1948, Vol. 3, 54-56. 

25. Vernon, Philip E.: The Structure of Practical Abilities, Occupational Psy- 
chology, 1949, Vol. 23, 81-96. 

26. Vernon, Philip E.: The Structure of Human Abilities. New York: John 
Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1950. 

27. Wechsler, David: Manual, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. New York: 
The Psychological Corporation, 1955. 

28. Wechsler, David: The Measurement and Appraisal of Adult Intelligence. 
Baltimore: The Williams & Wilkins Company, 1958. 

29. Wolfle, Dael: America's Resources of Specialized Talent. New York: 
Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated, 1954. 


30. American Psychiatric Association, Mental Hospital Service, Committee on 
Nomenclature and Statistics of the American Psychiatric Association: Di- 
agnostic and Statistical Manual: Mental Disorders. Washington, D.C.: 
American Psychiatric Association, 1952. 

References 349 

31. Basowitz, Harold, Harold Persky, Sheldon J. Korchin, and Roy R. Grinker: 
Anxiety and Stress. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1955. 

32. Benedict, Ruth: Patterns of Culture. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 

33. Cameron, Norman: Perceptual Organization and Behavior , Pathology, in 
Robert R. Blake, and Glenn V. Ramsey, Perception: An Approach to 
Personality. New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1951, pp. 283-306. 

34. Diven, Karl: Certain Determinants in the Conditioning of Anxiety Reac- 
tions, Journal of Psychology, 1937, Vol. 3, 291-308. 

35. Dunham, H. Warren: Sociological Theory and Mental Disorder. Detroit: 
Wayne State University Press, 1959. 

36. Freud, Anna: The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense. New York: Inter- 
national Universities Press, Inc., 1946. 

37. Ginzberg, Eli, James K. Anderson, Sol W. Ginsburg, and John L. Herma: 
The Ineffective Soldier: Vol. I, The Lost Divisions. New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1959. 

38. Ginzberg, Eli, John B. Miner, James K. Anderson, Sol W. Ginsburg, and 
John L. Herma: The Ineffective Soldier: Vol. II, Breakdown and Recovery. 
New York: Columbia University Press, 1959. 

39. Gurin, Gerald, Joseph VeroflF, and Sheila Feld: Americans View Their 
Mental Health. New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1960. 

40. Hoch, Paul H., and Joseph Zubin: Comparative Epidemiology of the 
Mental Disorders. New York: Grune & Stratton, Inc., 1961. 

41. Hutt, Max L., and Robert G. Gibby: Patterns of Abnormal Behavior. 
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1957. 

42. Jahoda, Marie: Current Concepts of Positive Mental Health. New York: 
Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1958. 

43. Kornhauser, Arthur: Toward an Assessment of the Mental Health of 
Factory Workers: A Detroit Study, Human Organization, 1962, Vol. 21, 

44. Kubie, Lawrence S.: Neurotic Distortion of the Creative Process. Law- 
rence, Kans.: University of Kansas Press, 1958. 

45. Markowe, Morris: Occupational Psychiatry: An Historical Survey and 
Some Recent Researches, Journal of Mental Science, 1953, VoL 99, 92- 

46. Miner, John B.: Personality and Ability Factors in Sales Performance, 
Journal of Applied Psychology, 1962, Vol. 46, 6-13. 

47. Miner, John B., and James K. Anderson: Intelligence and Emotional Dis- 
turbance: Evidence from Army and Veterans Administration Records, 
Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1958, Vol. 56, 75-81. 

48. Miner, John B., and James K. Anderson: The Postwar Occupational Ad- 
justment of Emotionally Disturbed Soldiers, Journal of Applied Psy- 
chology, 1958, Vol. 42, 317-322. 

49. Noyes, Arthur P.: Modern Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia: W. B. 
Saunders Company, 1948. 

350 The Management of Inejfective Performance 

50. Observer (pseudonym) and Milton A. Maxwell: A Study of Absenteeism, 
Accidents and Sickness Payments in Problem Drinkers in One Industry, 
Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1959, Vol, 20, 302-312. 

51. Peck, Robert F., and John W. Parsons: Personality Factors in Work Out- 
put: Four Studies of Factory Workers, Personnel Psychology, 1956, Vol. 
9, 49-79. 

52. Schachter, Stanley, Ben Willerman, Leon Festinger, and Ray Hyman: 
Emotional Disruption and Industrial Productivity, Journal of Applied Psy- 
chology, 1961, Vol. 45, 201-213. 

53. Steiner, Matilda E.: The Search for Occupational Personalities, Personnel, 
1953, Vol. 29, 335-343. 

54. Tomkins, Silvan S., and John B. Miner: The Tomkins-Horn Picture Ar- 
rangement Test. New^ York: Springer Publishing Company, Inc., 1957. 

55. Trice, Harrison M.: Identifying the Problem Drinker on the Job, Person- 
nel, 1957, Vol. 33, 527-533. 

56. White, Robert W.: The AJjnormal Personality. New York: The Ronald 
Press Company, 1948. 

See also No. 6. 


57. Abelson, Herbert I.: Persuasion. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 
Inc., 1959. 

58. Atkinson, John W.: Motives in Fantasy, Action, and Society. Princeton, 
N.J.: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1958. 

59. Bettelheim, Bruno: Individual and Mass Behavior in Extreme Situations, 
Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1943, Vol. 38, 417-452. 

60. Brayfield, Arthur H., and Walter H. Crockett: Employee Attitudes and 
Employee Performance, Psychological Bulletin, 1955, Vol. 52, 396-424. 

61. Brown, Judson S.: The Motivation of Behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill 
Book Company, Inc., 1961. 

62. Dubin, Robert: Business Behavior Behaviorally Viewed, in Chris Argyris, 
Robert Dubin, et al.. Social Science Approaches to Business Behavior. 
Homewood, 111.: Dorsey Press and Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1962, pp. 11- 

63. Edwards, Ward: The Theory of Decision Making, Psychological Bulletin, 
1954, Vol. 51, 380-417. 

64. Erickson, Milton H. : Experimental Demonstrations of the Psychopathology 
of Everyday Life, Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 1939, Vol. 8, 338-353. 

65. Freud, Sigmund: A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. Garden City, 
N.Y.: Garden City Books, 1920. 

66. Harlow, Robert G.: Masculine Inadequacy and Compensatory Develop- 
ment of Physique, Journal of Personality, 1951, Vol. 19, 312-323. 

67. Harrell, Thomas W.: Managers' Performance and Personality. Cincinnati: 
South- Western Publishing Company, 1961. 

68. Heller, Frank A.: Measuring Motivation in Industry, Occupational Psy- 
chology, 1952, Vol. 26, 86-95. 

References 351 

69. Henry, William E.: The Business Executive: The Psychodynamics of a 
Social Role, American Journal of Sociology, 1949, Vol. 54, 286-291. 

70. Herzberg, Frederick, Bernard Mausner, and Barbara B. Snyderman: The 
Motivation to Work. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1959. 

71. Herzberg, Frederick, Bernard Mausner, Richard O. Peterson, and Dora F. 
Capwell: Job Attitudes: Review of Research and Opinion. Pittsburgh: 
Psychological Service of Pittsburgh, 1957. 

72. Lawrence, Lois C, and Patricia Cain Smith: Group Decision and Em- 
ployee Participation, Journal of Applied Psychology, 1955, Vol. 39, 334- 

73. Mahone, Charles H.: Fear of Failure and UnreaHstic Vocational Aspira- 
tion, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1960, Vol. 60, 253-261. 

74. Martineau, Pierre: Motivation in Advertising. New York: McGraw-Hill 
Book Company, Inc. 1957. 

75. McClelland, David C: The Achieving Society. Princeton, N.J.: D. Van 
Nostrand Company, Inc., 1961. 

76. McClelland, David C, John W. Atkinson, Russell A. Clark, and Edgar L. 
Lowell: The Achievement Motive. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 
Inc., 1953. 

77. Merenda, Peter F., Walter V. Clarke, and Charles E. Hall: Cross-validity 
of Procedures for Selecting Insurance Salesmen, Journal of Applied Psy- 
chology, 1961, Vol. 45, 376-380. 

78. Meyer, Henry D., and Alan J. Fredian: Personality Test Scores in the 
Management Hierarchy: Revisited, Journal of Applied Psychology, 1959, 
Vol. 43, 21^220. 

79. Miner, John B.: The EflFect of a Course in Psychology on the Attitudes of 
Research and Development Supervisors, Journal of Applied Psychology, 
1960, Vol. 44, 224-232. 

80. Miner, John B.: The Kuder Preference Record in Management Appraisal, 
Personnel Psychology, 1960, Vol. 13, 187-196. 

81. Miner, John B.: The Concurrent Validity of the PAT in the Selection of 
Tabulating Machine Operators, Journal of Projective Techniques, 1960, 
Vol. 24, 409-418. 

82. Miner, John B.: The Validity of the PAT in the Selection of Tabulating 
Machine Operators: An Analysis of Predictive Power, Journal of Projec- 
tive Techniques, 1961, Vol. 25, 330-333. 

83. Miner, John B., and Eugene E. Heaton: Company Orientation as a Factor 
in the Readership of Employee Publications, Personnel Psychology, 1959, 
Vol. 12, 607-618. 

84. Patchen, Martin: The Choice of Wage Comparisons. Englewood ChflFs, 
N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1961. 

85. Pederson-Krag, Geraldine: Personality Factors in Work and Employment. 
New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1955. 

86. Rosen, Hjalmar, and Charles G. Weaver: Motivation in Management: A 
Study of Four Managerial Levels, Journal of Applied Psychology, 1960, 
Vol. 44, 386-392. 

352 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

87. Ross, Ian C, and Alvin Zander: Need Satisfactions and Employee Turn- 
over, Personnel Psychology, 1957, Vol. 10, 327-338. 

88. Tomkins, Silvan S., and John B. Miner: PAT Interpretation — Scope and 
Technique. New York: Springer Publishing Company, Inc., 1959. 

89. Viteles, Morris S.: Motivation and Morale in Industry. New York: W. W. 
Norton & Company, Inc., 1953. 

90. Vroom, Victor H. : Some Personality Determinants of the Effects of Partici- 
pation. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1960. 

91. Wald, Robert M., and Roy A. Doty: The Top Executive — A Firsthand 
Profile, Harvard Business Review, 1954, Vol. 32, 45-54. 

92. Weitz, Joseph: Job Expectancy and Survival, Journal of Applied Psy- 
chology, 1956, Vol. 40, 245-247. 

93. Young, Paul T.: Motivation and Emotions. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 
Inc., 1961. 

See also Nos. 14 and 46. 


94. Alexander, Franz: Psychosomatic Medicine. New York: W. W. Norton & 
Company, Inc., 1950. 

95. Barker, Roger G.: Adjustment to Physical Handicap and Illness: A Survey 
of the Social Psychology of Physique and Disability. New York: Social 
Science Research Council, 1953. 

96. Gagne, Robert M., and Edwin A. Fleishman: Psychology and Human 
Performance. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1959. 

97. Goldstein, Kurt: The Organism. New York: American Book Company, 

98. Hinkle, Lawrence E.: The Physiological State of the Interrogation Sub- 
ject as It AflFects Brain Function, in Albert D. Biderman, and Herbert 
Zimmer, The Manipulation of Human Behavior. New York: John Wiley & 
Sons, Inc., 1961, pp. 19-50. 

99. Kennedy, John L., Dorothea E. Johannsen, and Donald B. Devoe: Hand- 
hook of Human Engineering Data. Medford, Mass.: Tufts College Insti- 
tute of Applied Experimental Psychology, 1952. 

100. Matarazzo, Ruth G., Joseph D. Matarazzo, and George Saslow: The Rela- 
tionship between Medical and Psychiatric Symptoms, Journal of Abnormal 
and Social Psychology, 1961, Vol. 62, 55-61. 

101. McFarland, Ross A.: Human Factors in Air Transportation. New York: 
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1952. 

102. McGehee, WilHam, and Paul W. Thayer: Training in Business and In- 
dustry. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1961. 

103. Neuschutz, Louise M.: Vocational Rehabilitation for the Physically Handi- 
capped. Springfield, 111.: Charles C Thomas, PubHsher, 1959. 

104. Pressey, Sidney L., and Raymond G. Kuhlen: Psychological Development 
through the Life Span. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorpo- 
rated, 1957. 

References 353 

105. United States Department of Labor: Comparative Job Performance by 
Age: Office Workers (Bulletin No. 1273). Washington, D.C.: Govern- 
ment Printing OflBce, 1960. 

106. Welford, Alan T.: Aging and Human Skill. London: Oxford University 
Press, 1958. : 

107. WolflF, Harold G., Stewart G. Wolf, and Clarence C. Hare: Life Stress 
and Bodily Disease- Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Company, 1950. 

See also Nos. 4, 22, and 31. 


108. Becker, Howard, and Reuben Hill: Family, Marriage and Parenthood. 
Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1955. 

109. Bell, Norman W., and Ezra F. Vogel: A Modern Introduction to the 
Family. New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1960. 

110. Friend, Jeannette G., and Ernest A. Haggard: Work Adjustment in Rela- 
tion to Family Background. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 

111. HiU, Reuben: Families under Stress. New York: Harper & Row, Publish- 
ers, Incorporated, 1949. 

112. Ingham, Harrington V.: A Statistical Study of Family Relationships in 
Psychoneurosis, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1949, Vol. 106, 91-98. 

113. Kutash, Samuel B.: Performance of Psychopathic Defective Criminals on 
the Thematic Apperception Test, Journal of Criminal Psychopathology, 
1943, Vol. 5, 319-340. 

114. Lindemann, Erich: Symptomatology and Management of Acute Grief, 
American Journal of Psychiatry, 1944, Vol. 101, 141-148. 

See also No. 107. 


115. Bass, Bernard M.: Leadership, Psychology, and Organizational Behavior. 
New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated, 1960. 

116. Berkowitz, Leonard: Group Standards, Cohesiveness, and Productivity, 
Human Relations, 1954, Vol. 7, 509-519. 

117. Brown, James A. C: The Social Psychology of Industry. Baltimore: 
Penguin Books, Inc., 1954. 

118. Cartwright, Dorwin, and Alvin Zander: Group Dynamics. New York: 
Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated, 1960. 

119. eleven, Walter A., and Fred E. Fiedler: Interpersonal Perceptions of 
Open-hearth Foremen and Steel Production, Journal of Applied Psychol- 
ogy, 1956, Vol. 40, 312-314. 

120. Di Vesta, Francis J. : Instructor-centered and Student-centered Approaches 
in Teaching a Human Relations Course, Journal of Applied Psychology, 
1954, Vol. 38, 329-335. 

121. Fiedler, Fred E.: Leader Attitudes and Group Effectiveness. Urbana, 111.: 
University of Illinois Press. 1958. 

354 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

122. Fleishman, Edwin A., and Edwin F. Harris: Patterns of Leadership Be- 
havior Related to Employee Grievances and Turnover, Personnel Psy- 
chology, 1962, Vol. 15, 43-56. 

123. Fleishinan, Edwin A., Edwin F. Harris, and Harold E. Burtt: Leadership 
and Supervision in Industry. Columbus, Ohio: Bureau of Educational 
Research, Ohio State University, 1955. 

124. Freud, Sigmund: Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. New 
York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1921. 

125. Ginzberg, Eli: The Negro Potential. New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1956. 

126. Haire, Mason: Psychology in Management. New York: McGraw-Hill Book 
Company, Inc., 1956. 

127. Kahn, Robert L.: Employee Motivation. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Bureau of 
Industrial Relations, University of Michigan, 1956. 

128. Katzell, Raymond A., Richard S. Barrett, and Treadway C. Parker: Job 
Satisfaction, Job Performance, and Situational Characteristics, lournal of 
Applied Psychology, 1961, Vol. 45, 65-72. 

129. Lawshe, Charles H., and Bryant F. Nagle: Productivity and Attitude to- 
ward Supervisor, Journal of Applied Psychology, 1953, Vol. 37, 159-162. 

130. Likert, Rensis: New Patterns of Management. New York: McGraw-Hill 
Book Company, Inc., 1961. 

131. Marrow, Alfred J., and John R. P. French: Changing a Stereotype in 
Industry, Journal of Social Issues, 1945, Vol. 1, 33-37. 

132. Miner, John B.: Management Development and Attitude Change, Per- 
sonnel Administration, 1961, Vol. 24, No. 3, 21-26. 

133. Miner, John B.: Evidence Regarding the Value of a Management Course 
Based on Behavioral Science Subject Matter, Journal of Business, 1963, 
Vol. 36, 325-335. 

134. Schachter, Stanley: The Psychology of Affiliation. Stanford, Calif.: Stan- 
ford University Press, 1959. 

135. Seashore, Stanley E.: Group Cohesiveness in the Industrial Work Group. 
Ann Arbor, Mich.: Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, 

136. Shartle, Carroll L.: Executive Performance and Leadership. Englewood 
Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1956. 

137. Smith, Jackson A.: Occupational Stress and Emotional Illness, Journal of 
the American Medical Association, 1956, Vol. 161, 1038-1040. 

138. Stogdill, Ralph M.: Individual Behavior and Group Achievement. Fair 
Lawn, N.J.: Oxford University Press, 1959. 

139. Stogdill, Ralph M., and Alvin E. Coons: Leader Behavior: Its Description 
and Measurement. Columbus, Ohio: Bureau of Business Research, Ohio 
State University, 1957. 

140. Tannenbaum, Robert, Irving R. Weschler, and Fred Massarik: Leadership 
and Organization. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1961. 

141. Whyte, William F.: Money and Motivation. New York: Harper & Row, 
Publishers, Incorporated, 1955, ^ 

References 355 

142. Whyte, William F.: Men at Work. Homewood, 111.: Dorsey Press and 
Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1961. 

143. Whyte, William H.: The Organization Man. New York: Simon and 
Schuster, Inc., 1956. 

See also Nos. 72, 79, and 90. 


144. Argyris, Chris: The Organization: What Makes It Healthy, Harvard 
Business Review, 1958, Vol. 36, No. 6, 107-116. 

145. Coch, Lester, and John R. P. French: Overcoming Resistance to Change, 
Human Relations, 1948, Vol. 1, 512-532. 

146. Fleishman, Edwin A., and David R. Peters: Interpersonal Values, Leader- 
ship Attitudes, and Managerial Success, Personnel Psychology, 1962, Vol. 
15, 127-143. 

147. Ginzberg, Eli: Perspectives on Work Motivation, Personnel, 1954, Vol. 31, 

148. Jerome, William Travers: Executive Control — The Catalyst. New York: 
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1961. 

149. Koontz, Harold, and Cyril O'Donnell: Principles of Management. New 
York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1959. 

150. March, James G., and Herbert A. Simon: Organizations. New York: John 
Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1958. 

151. Mathiasen, Geneva: Flexible Retirement. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 

152. Miner, John B.: Selection or Development: Management's Perennial 
Dilemma, in Business Developments 1961. Eugene, Oreg.: School of 
Business Administration, University of Oregon, 1961, pp. 29-34. 

153. Miner, John B.: Conformity among University Professors and Business 
Executives, Administrative Science Quarterly, 1962, Vol. 7, 96-109. 

154. Miner, John B.: A Statistical Model for the Study of Conformity, in Fred 
Massarik and Philbum Ratoosh, Mathematical Explorations in Behavioral 
Science. Homewood, 111.: Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1964. (In press.) 

155. Newman, WiUiam H., and James P. Logan: Business Policies and Man- 
agement. Cincinnati: South-Westem Pubhshing Company, 1959. 

156. Pearson, Margaret: The Transition from Work to Retirement, Occupa- 
tional Psychology, 1957, Vol. 31, 80-88 and 139-149. 

157. Simon, Herbert A.: Administrative Behavior. New York: The Mac- 
millan Company, 1957. 

158. Tuckman, Jacob, and Irving Lorge: Retirement and the Industrial Worker. 
New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia Uni- 
versity, 1953. 

15^. Walker, Edward L., and Roger W. Heyns: An Anatomy for Conformity. 

Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1962. 
See also Nos. 12, 89, 115, 138, and 143. 

356 The Management of Ineffective Performance 


160. Barron, Frank: The Disposition toward Originality, in Calvin W. Taylor, 
The 1955 University of Utah Research Conference on the Identification 
of Creative Scientific Talent. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 
1956, pp. 156-170. 

161. Caudill, William: Japanese- American Personality and Acculturation, Ge- 
netic Psychology Monographs, 1952, Vol. 45, 3-102. 

162. Crutchfield, Richard S.: Conformity and Creative Thinking, in Howard 
E. Gruber, Glenn Terrell, and Michael Wertheimer, Contemporary Ap- 
proaches to Creative Thinking. New York: Atherton Press, 1962, pp. 

163. Dember, William N.: The Psychology of Perception. New York: Holt, 
Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1960. 

164. Dukes, William F.: Psychological Studies of Values, Psychological Bulle- 
tin, 1955, Vol. 52, 24r-50. 

165. Farber, Maurice L.: English and Americans: Values in the Socialization 
Process, lournal of Psychology, 1953, Vol. 36, 243-250. 

166. Freud, Sigmund: Civilization and Its Discontents. London: The Hogarth 
Press, Ltd., 1930. 

167. Herskovits, Melville J.: Man and His Works. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 
Inc., 1948. 

168. Kardiner, Abram: The Psychological Frontiers of Society. New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1945. 

169. Karon, Bertram P.: The Negro Personality. New York: Springer Publish- 
ing Company, Inc., 1958. 

170. Kluckhohn, Clyde: The Evolution of Contemporary American Values, 
Daedalus, 1958, Vol. 87, 78-109. 

171. Lynd, Robert S.: Knowledge for What? Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Uni- 
versity Press, 1939. 

172. McClelland, David C: Studies in Motivation. New York: Appleton- 
Century-Crofts, Inc., 1955. 

173. McClelland, David C, Joseph F. Sturr, Robert H. Knapp, and Hans W. 
Wendt: Obligations to Self and Society in the United States and Germany, 
lournal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1958, Vol. 56, 245-255. 

174. Miner, John B.: Motion Perception, Time Perspective, and Creativity, 
lournal of Projective Techniques, 1956, Vol. 20, 405-413. 

175. Pratt, Carroll C: The Logic of Modern Psychology. New York: The Mac- 
millan Company, 1939. 

176. Rosen, Bernard C: The Achievement Syndrome: A Psychocultural Di- 
mension of Social Stratification, American Sociological Review, 1956, Vol. 
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177. Rosenberg, Morris: Occupations and Values. New York: The Free Press 
of Glencoe, 1957. 

178. Stein, Morris: Creativity and Culture, lournal of Psychology, 1953, Vol. 

References 357 

179. Stein, Morris I., Shirley J. Heinze, and Robert R. Rodgers: Creativity 
and/or Success: A Study in Value Conflict, in Calvin W. Taylor, Tl^ 
Second (1957) University of Utah Research Conference on the Identifica- 
tion of Creative Scientific Talent. Salt Lake City: University of Utah 
Press, 1958, pp. 201-242 

180. Strodtbeck, Fred L.: Family Interaction, Values, and Achievement, in 
David C. McClelland, Alfred L. Baldwin, et al.. Talent and Society. 
Princeton, N.J.: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1958, pp. 135-194. 

181. Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness: Vol. I, The Positive 
Affects. New York: Springer Publishing Company, Inc., 1962. 

182. Van Lennep, D. J.: Personality and Social Factors Related to Creativity, 
in The Direction of Research Establishments. New York: Philosophical 
Library, Inc., 1957, pp. 4.p3-B.p7. 

183. Whitehill, Arthur M., and Shin-ichi Takezawa: Cultural Values in Man- 
agement-Worker Relations. Japan: Gimu in Transition. Chapel Hill, N.C.: 
School of Business Administration, University of North Carolina, 1961. 

See also Nos. 38, 46, and 75. 


184. Broadbent, D, E., and E. A. J. Little: Effects of Noise Reduction in a 
Work Situation, Occupational Psychology, 1960, Vol. 34, 133-140. 

185. Davids, Anthony, and James T. Mahoney: Personality Dynamics and 
Accident-proneness in an Industrial Setting, Journal of Applied Psychol- 
ogy, 1957, Vol. 41, 303-306. 

186. Drake, Charles A.: Accident-proneness: A Hypothesis, Character and 
Personality, 1940, Vol. 8, 335-341. 

187. Gagne, Robert M.: Psychological Principles in System Development. 
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1962. 

188. Ghiselli, Edwin F., and Clarence W. Brown: Personnel and Industrial 
Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1955. 

189. Graham, Norah E.: The Speed and Accuracy of Reading Horizontal, 
Vertical, and Circular Scales, Journal of Applied Psychology, 1956, Vol. 
40, 228-232. 

190. Heinrich, H. W.: Industrial Accident Prevention. New York: McGraw- 
Hill Book Company, Inc., 1959. 

191. Hill, J. M. M., and Eric L. Trist: A Consideration of Industrial Accidents 
as a Means of Withdrawal from the Work Situation, Human Relations, 
1953, Vol. 6, 357-380. 

192. Le Shan, Lawrence L.: Dynamics in Accident-prone Behavior, Psychiatry, 
1952, Vol. 15, 73-80. 

193. Lord, Edith: Psychological Aspects of Living and Working Abroad and 
Their Management by Some United States Government Agencies. Wash- 
ington, D.C.: Agency for International Development, 1961. (Mimeo- 
graphed paper presented at American Psychological Association meet- 


358 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

194. Mann, Floyd C, and L. Richard HoflFman: Automation and the Worker. 
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Wiiiston, Inc., 1960. 

195. McCormick, Ernest J.: Human Engineering. New York: McGraw-Hill 
Book Company, Inc., 1957. 

196. Miller, George: The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some 
Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information, Psychological Re- 
view, 1956, Vol. 63, 81-97. 

197. Schulzinger, Morris S.: The Accident Syndrome. Springfield, 111.: Charles 
C Thomas, Publisher, 1956. 

198. Taylor, Franklin V.: Four Basic Ideas in Engineering Psychology, Ameri- 
can Psychologist, 1960, Vol. 15, 643-649. 

199. Tillmann, W. A., and G. E. Hobbs: The Accident-prone Automobile 
Driver, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1949, Vol. 106, 321-331. 

200. Van Zelst, R. H.: The Effect of Age and Experience upon Accident Rate, 
Journal of Applied Psychology, 1954, Vol. 38, 313-317. 

See also Nos. 38 and 94. 

Abilities, age related to, 36, 173 

changes in, 32, 37 

development of, 23-25 

learning ( see Learning ability ) 

limited, signs of, 29-30 

in personnel placement, 163 

tests of, 23, 24, 28 

transfer and, 31-32 

verbal ( see Verbal ability ) 
Absenteeism, for accidents, 207, 208 

of alcoholics, 65, 67 

avoidance of work situation and, 82 

dissatisfaction and, 83, 84 

of handicapped workers, 101 

from illness, 98-99 

sick leave and, 169 
Acceleration, physical eflFects of, 205 
Acceptance by group, desire for, 85, 244, 

245, 247 
Accident proneness, 198, 208-212 

emotional factors in, 208-210 

unconscious motivation in, 208, 209 
Accidents, 198, 207-214 

age related to, 208 

alcoholism and, 65 

prevention of, 210-211 
Accounting manager, case history, 231- 
performance analysis, 234-239 
Accuracy as aspect of performance, 4 
Achievement in job satisfaction, 76 
Acoustical engineering, 204-205 
Age, and absence for iUness, 99 

accidents related to, 208 

brain disorders and, 103 

conformity and, 177 

decline of performance with, 112-113, 

emotional disorders and, 69 

intelligence test comparisons, 36-37 

physical abilities and, 112-114 

placement of older workers, 113-114 

retirement and, 172-174 
Airplane pilots, tests of, 109 

Alcoholics Anonymous, 67, 68 
Alcoholism, 65-69 

case history, 65-67 

as cause of failure, 147-148 

as family problem, 129 

identification of, 67-68, 138 
Ambition, in case histories, 284, 287, 289, 
294, 295 

ineffective performance and, 78, 81 

in motivation, 78, 81, 94, 96 
Amputees, employment of, 101 
Anger, in neuroses and psychoses, 69 

performance and, 56—57, 59 
Anxiety, in accident prevention, 210 

alcoholism and, 67 

in brain disorders, 104 

in danger situations, 212—214 

in emotional disorders, 42, 49, 69 

illness and, 100 

performance and, 56, 60 

in separation ( see Separation ) 
Aptitude tests, 28 
Army, cultural value conflicts in, 191 

desegregation in, 150 

discharge policy, 9-10 

emotional disorders, follow-up study, 
58-59, 64 

intelligence tests, 22 

separation as problem in, 120 
Army Alpha Test, 22 
Army General Classification Test, 24 
Army Special Training Units, 32 
Assistance, desire for, 86, 329, 330 
Atlantic Refining Company, magazine ar- 
ticle survey, 77-78 

management appraisal program, 89 
Atmospheric effects on performance, 205 
Attention, desire for, 86, 219 
Automation, adjustment to, 9 

effect on performance, 206-207 

muscular skill replaced by, 109 
Avoidance {see Failure; Responsibility; 
Work situation avoidance ) 


360 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Behavior, causation of, 71—72 

in emotional disorders, 43—44 
Blind workers, 101, 102 
Brain disorders, performance and, 102- 

symptoms of, 103-104 

tests for, 8 
Brain injury, alcoholism and, 65 

in case history, 293, 296 

causes of, 103 

effect on intelligence, 21 
Brain operations, 62-63 
British cultural values, 182 
British psychological studies in World 
War II. 31 

Case histories, accounting manager, 
foreign assignment, 231-239 
alcoholism, 65-67 

emotional disorders, 49-55, 257-262 
foreman, work-group situation, 240- 

machine operator, emotional disorder, 

management consultant, separation 

anxiety, 324-331 
market research assistant, limited in- 
telligence, 292-297 
research chemist, organizational action, 

sales manager, insufficient training, 

salesman, motivational problems, 249- 

store manager, emotional problems, 

training coordinator, family problems, 

truck driver, training program, 283- 

welder, work environment, 307—314 
Caterpillar Tractor Company, 101, 140 
Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, 140 
Childhood, cultural values in, 180-181 
environment in, 21-22 
motivation in, 21-22 
Children, as family problem, 117, 123- 
gifted, study of, 27, 37 

Children, separation from parents, 120 
Clerical workers, age and performance of, 
training for, 160 
Climate, effect of, 201-202 
Clinical psychology, 334, 341 
Color blindness. 111 
Company, 157-177 

as factor in performance failure, 336 
grievance procedures, 168-169, 187 
intracompany conflict, 174-177 
overpermissiveness in, 167-169, 246- 

policies, 157-162 
cost in, 160 
decisions on, 157-158 
on discipline, 167-168 
effects of, 158 
on medical facilities, 160 
on recruitment, 168, 273-275 
on retirement, 172-174 
on sick leave, 169 
time in, 161 

on training, 159-160, 162, 168, 283, 
289, 291 
span of control, 169-171 
standards and criteria {see Organiza- 
tional standards ) 
work-group relationships, 151 
Company magazine survey, 77-78 
Competition in managerial work, 217, 

Complaints (see Dissatisfaction; Griev- 
ances ) 
Conformity, 176-177 
Control, conflict in, 175 

inappropriate standards in, 172 
span of, 169-171 
Creative work, cultural values in, 190- 
freedom in, 189 
Criticism, avoidance of, 94, 224, 326, 

Cultural values, 179-195 

in case histories, 278, 281, 304, 322 

definition of, 179 

faflure and, 186-192, 338 

fair play, 187-188, 194 

freedom, 188-191 

laws and, 183-184 

managerial problems of, 193-195 

Index 361 

Cultural values, morality, 191-192 
national origin and, 182-183 
organizational standards and, 184-185 
performance related to, 183-186 
sanctions imposed by, 183-184 

Culture, definition of, 179 

Danger, 198, 207-214 

accident proneness and, 210 

emotional problems in, 212—214 

as factor in performance failure, 338 

subjective, in managerial ineffective- 
ness, 215-225 
Deaf workers, 101, 102 
Death, as family problem, 117 

grief reaction and, 118-119, 125-126 

in work group, 153 
Decision making, on company policies, 

emotional problems affecting, 57-58 
Demotion, 30-32 

in brain disorders, 104 

in case histories, 243, 247-248, 277, 
294, 297 

versus intensive training, 33 

neurotic symptoms and, 59, 64 
Depression, case history, 51-53 

in emotional disorders, 49, 69 

performance and, 56 
Depressions, economic, 199 
Desegregation, 150 
Detroit Edison Company, 140 
Developing countries, cultural values in, 

educational programs in, 33 
Dexterity in performance, 108-109 
Discharge (see Firing) 
Discipline, company policies on, 167-168 
Dissatisfaction, expression of, 147, 187 

fear of failure in, 77 
Divorce, effects of, 117, 118 
Doctors, fear of , 98 
Dominance, pleasure in, 84-85 

Eastman Kodak, 101 
Economic forces, 197-201 

in case history, 265-266, 271 
Education, cultural values in, 180-181 

freedom as value in, 188 

Education, intelligence test scores and, 

( See also Training ) 
Electric shock therapy, 62, 63, 126 
Emotional disorders, 39-70 

alcoholism ( see Alcoholism ) 

Army follow-up study, 58-59, 64 

brain disorders compared with, 102, 

case histories, 49-55, 257-259 
performance analysis, 259-262 

causes of, 47-48 

classification of, 48-49 

correction and treatment of, 60-65 

definition of, 40-41 

economic forces in, 199-200 

family problems in, 116-118, 124 

geographic factors in, 201-202 

incidence of, 69-70, 337 

intellective defenses in, 46-48, 57-58 

intelligence related to, 25-26, 30 

managerial failure as cause, 141, 145 

nature of, 40-48 

performance and, 55-60 

physical disorders related to, 43, 60, 
100, 104-107 

symptoms of, 41-45 

in work groups, 134, 138, 139 
Emotions, in accident proneness, 207- 

in case histories, 253, 264, 267-272, 
278, 287, 295, 319-320, 328-330 

cultural values and, 181 

in danger situations, 212-214 

in fear of failure, 82 

in ineffective placement, 164, 165 

in managerial ineffectiveness, 222-225 

in motivation, 72-73, 83-84 

in neuroses and psychoses compared, 

performance and, 55-60, 337 
Environment, learning ability and, 21, 22 

( See also Work environment ) 
Epilepsy, 101, 102 

tests for, 8 
Equity as cultural value, 187-188, 194 
Errors, unconscious motivation in, 75, 105 
Executives, conformity in, 176-177 

in economic depressions, 199 

fear of failure in, 81-82 

in intracompany conflict, 175-176 

362 The Management of Ineffective Performance 

Executives, managerial activity of, 171 

( See also Managers ) 
Experimental psychology, 333 

Failure, anger and, 56-57 

avoidance of, and choice of occupation, 
and ineflFective performance, 82-83 
manager's approach to, 95 
cultural values influencing, 186-192 
desire for, 87 
fear of, in case histories, 237, 238 

in motivation,